NFU Scotland again rejects digital grain passports proposal

The proposal seeks to replace the existing paper passport with a digital solution
The proposal seeks to replace the existing paper passport with a digital solution

The introduction of a digital passport to accompany grain movements has been rejected by NFU Scotland for a second time.

The union's decision has been taken following further consultation on the proposal for Digital Grain Passport (DGP) with its farmer members.

Digitising paper passports, a move away from the current paper system, to improve food and feed safety data communication through supply chains, has been discussed for more than a decade.

NFU Scotland first challenged the proposed introduction of DGPs in November 2022, and over the last 18 months, it has been part of the stakeholder groups looking at the business case for implementing them.

A consultation on the latest proposals closed in February 2024 and a new business case was brought forward to the industry last month.

NFU Scotland’s view on the new business case was discussed at a meeting of the leadership group, on 5 July.

The union said that farmers had determined that criteria around being fit for purpose, data ownership and data usage had been met.

However, criteria around accessibility, efficiency and proportionate costs versus benefits had not.

It said there remained 'a strong feeling' that the current paper system was functioning well for what farmers in Scotland needed.

NFU Scotland's vice president, Andrew Connon said: “Members made the bold but justifiable decision to put the brakes on the introduction of DGPs 18 months ago until a clear business case for their introduction could be made.

“While we can see some potential advantages there remains question marks regarding complexity, accessibility, efficiency and proportionate costs.

“There is no doubt that technology is the way ahead for our industry and some merchants are already using technology for feedback on analysis and weights.

"But technology needs to be proven to have a genuine benefit for our growers and in the case of DGP it has yet to satisfy the key criteria that NFUS originally highlighted."

In addition, Mr Connon said the grain trade needed to decide what it wanted as there were still mixed messages coming from Scottish suppliers, hauliers, merchants and end-users.

He added that some were in favour but many others were staunchly against it, adding "with mixed messages from the trade, it is little wonder that farmers are not convinced of the benefits of moving to the proposed DGP.”