Wheat being poured from a combine harvester into a lorry

Source: Getty Images / dusanpetkovic

An industry-wide consultation on implementing a proposed digital passport for combinable crop movements is underway.

Switching to a single, industry-wide digital passport, as set out in the consultation, is expected to improve data integrity and security, provide scope for real-time assurance checks, reduce costs across the supply chain, and increase confidence and credibility to growers, buyers’ customers, stakeholders, and regulators. It would replace the existing paper passport, which has been in use for more than 30 years.

Under the proposed system, the electronic passport would be initiated by farmers with input from hauliers, before being transmitted to receivers. It would offer live updates of assurance status prior to the vehicle leaving farms, avoiding the risk of delay or rejection at the receiver’s site.

The move has been proposed by a leadership group chaired by Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) board member Stephen Briggs. It meets weekly, and comprises:

  • Merchants and animal feed business – represented by the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC)
  • Farmers – represented by the National Farmers Union (NFU) and NFU Scotland
  • Receivers – represented by UK Flour Millers, the Maltsters Association and Seed Crushers and Oilseed Processors.

A spokesperson for the leadership group said that substantial time has been invested in developing a business case which addresses all the aspects of the new system, from governance to development and operation.

“In essence this is a simple change, switching from the pieces of paper currently carried with each load across the country, to a digital equivalent in a robust, secure online system. Operationally it would be a marked change, and we are now keen to hear views from stakeholders across the supply chain on the proposal,” they concluded.

The Leadership Group will be looking at the feedback received during the 11-week consultation to assess support for the business case and whether it meets industry requirements. The consultation closes on Friday 2 February 2024. Those wishing to offer feedback on the consultation should reach out to their trade association representative who, in the case of UK Flour Millers, is Alistair Gale. Businesses who are not members of one of the trade bodies involved can use the Digital Passport consultation feedback form to submit their views.