Updated: Apr 16
Thank you for taking the time to have a discussion with me at the recent Dairy Tech event. I think we can both agree there are some exciting and challenging times ahead for the livestock sector. As well as being an active farmer I am also one of the founders of the newly established group called The Farmers Union.
Over the past month our ever-growing membership has instructed us on various matters the two most notable ones being to implement a farm security network and patrol to protect against recent activist activity and to act as professional witnesses to farmers and the wider rural communities. The second issue we have been asked to act on is implementing a new food standard for British produce that categorically proves where food, predominately livestock originates.
18 months ago, one of our members presented technology to NFU, Red Tractor, Dawn Meats, Tesco which was designed by an elite group of independent industry professionals with recent first-hand and insider experience of all aspects of the red meat supply chain, with a few simples aims.
· Put together a consortium that represents the whole supply chain to support government policy
· Create an individual animal record for each animal from birth to death BASED ON LOCATION
· Allow farmers the choice of using LF RFID, OCR, UHF, Biometric reading equipment
· Remove the need for paper animal registrations and movements
· Eradicate Livestock Theft and insurance fraud
· Track livestock movement in real time from farm to markets and abattoirs using Geolocation technology
· Integrate mandatory traceability with supply chain
· Reduce cost to farmers by making eartags free
· Make a system that can work with other industry initiatives by holding official and management data all in one place
This technology was rejected as being too disruptive to the market place.
Since then the project was initially shut down until The Farmers Union group along with 3 other major membership groups and several the top breed societies approached us. Since then the project was looked at again. Simply put we are 6-8 weeks from having a workable system that addresses all our aims that will be delivered to every livestock farmer in the UK, backed up by full training and support.
A recent survey was carried out by a respected and independent agricultural consultancy business of 1500 farmers around this system with unheard of support being shown.
The Farmers Union have requested that the concept is shared with LIPS, however this has met with some resistance at this stage unless LIPS are willing to sign an NDA before discussing this further.
The system is designed to be compatible with current standards and government gate way data bases, but it simplifies and gathers far more data in one place at a time than the current programs which has the result of drastically reducing red tape for buyer and food processors.
For example, is movements and registrations. Currently there is no way to prove where an animal is born which makes it impossible to have real time or paperless movements. Granted we have a passport and registration system, however the design team with its experience have shown without doubt how simple it is to tamper with this or make mistakes. Geo-location linked to the database provides the start point of the animal’s life, which in turn allows the system to work and track its movements in real-time. This is impossible to tamper with.
One of the key drivers that the initial group focused on was disease control and eradication. The 3 points below were addressed.
Disease Outbreak – If foot and mouth came tomorrow the current system couldn’t contain it any quicker than previously. With our system we would be able to contain it within 60 minutes as we would have real time information of which animals where in transit currently and where they came from and went to, all this at the click of a button. British farmers have identified disease outbreak as one of the biggest fears post Brexit.
Disease eradication – The group having worked on eradication programmes across the world have designed the system to make it cost effective enough for farmers to sample and test every animal. A bespoke TST eartag range was designed to allow farmers eartags FOC that collected two samples, one to be tested for disease eradication and the second to be held in the custom-built liquid nitrogen store for future reference. This was never taken to the market but is still available.
The thing to remember is this system is not reinventing the wheel it is just drastically stream lining the current one and could easily be implemented at a much smaller cost that EID Tags and farmers and livestock markets do not need to by tag readers as they can just use their phones or smart devices.
I look forward to hearing your opinion on this forward-thinking way of improving and implementing a world leading livestock traceability service.
Alan J Hughes