NFU Scotland and NFU England are not backing the introduction of Digital Grain Passports (DGP) in its current guise.

Following a three-month consultation from AHDB, both organisations, having asked their members, have challenged the DGP introduction.

The Scottish Farmer: NFUS combinable crops chair Willie ThomsonNFUS combinable crops chair Willie Thomson

The long-running saga to bring in DGPs has been criticised for excessive costs and a failure to sell the business case to farmers. The previous consultation in 2022 saw NFU Scotland challenge the industry proposal. Last week, the union continued to question the plans by stating its members remained unsupportive of the introduction of DGPs.

In its consultation response, the union determined ‘that three of the six key 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 been met.

Chair of NFU Scotland’s combinable crops committee, Willie Thomson, who has been involved in the DGP leadership group, said: “We remain unconvinced that moving to a digital system will be better than a paper system. Our members do not feel that this would be a positive move for the industry.”

NFU England crops board chair Matt Culley said: “The industry has been working hard to develop a proposal for a DGP that offers a number of benefits to UK growers, and that includes a simple, secure, and reliable system for the real-time return of quality data to the farm. The NFU national crops board continues to support the principle of a digital passport.

“However, the current business case does not address all of the needs and concerns of our members. A critical benefit of a digital passport is the transparency and efficiency that immediate feedback of sample data at intake would deliver for the farm business, but this must be guaranteed, and not simply be an ‘expectation’ as stated in the business case.

The Scottish Farmer: The latest Digital Grain Passport plan has recieved a cold response from farmers Ref:RH120822073 Rob Haining / The Scottish FarmerThe latest Digital Grain Passport plan has recieved a cold response from farmers Ref:RH120822073 Rob Haining / The Scottish Farmer

“Other practical challenges remain, including a wider problem with connectivity where some farm businesses do not have access to smartphones. There are also concerns over the cost of the system and a perceived lack of flexibility versus the paper version, especially where there are late changes to logistics.

“We will continue to work constructively with the leadership group to ensure these issues are addressed and that our members’ interests remain at the forefront of the project development.”

The industry-wide consultation received several hundred responses, with many looking at data usage and the process of the system.

There was also concern about connectivity on farms and the availability of devices alongside the proposed costs and benefits of the system.

Now that the consultation has closed, the DGP leadership group will collate and analyse the feedback, with meetings planned in early March.