Four years hard work on new livestock traceability system finally pays-off
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove has announced today that DEFRA are to go ahead with the development of a new Livestock Information Service in partnership with industry. This is a landmark decision and one that will bring substantial and long-lasting benefits to the whole food supply chain.
The new service will be rolled-out in 2019 and will provide the means to identify and track animal movements via electronic IDs throughout their whole lifecycle.
The project was begun back in 2014 and grew out of an industry meeting called by the then chairman of EBLEX (English Beef and Lamb Executive)Norfolk farmer John Cross and the EBLEX team headed up at by Nick Allen. It started life as the Livestock Industry Data Exchange Hub and, at that point, was primarily developed for the beef and lamb sector.
The concept of the service can be seen in the original name. The group recognised that the existing system, which relied on several un-connected animal identification and tracking services, was no longer fit for purpose and made true ‘farm to fork’ traceability difficult, if not impossible.
The Livestock Information Service will bring huge benefits not just to the industry but to consumers for whom food safety, animal welfare and the origin of food are of increasing importance.
Their solution was to develop a centralised, fully digital and near real-time system of data sharing that would be capable of integrating with the entire supply chain.
In February 2017 after the initial pilot scheme achieved proof of concept, DEFRA committed additional funding to the project and crucially expanded it to include multiple species. The Livestock Information Service was born.
A true team effort
One aspect of this initiative that merits attention is the unprecedented level of involvement that industry has had with Government in the development of the new system.
Making the Livestock Information Service a reality is testament to the collaborative working relationship that BMPA, AHDB, NFU and the other 19 industry partners that make up the Traceability Design User Group (TDUG) have maintained throughout with MPs like George Eustice, Michael Gove and the team at DEFRA.
Benefits of better traceability
The Livestock Information Service will bring huge benefits not just to the meat industry but to consumers for whom food safety, animal welfare and the origin of food are of increasing importance. It will also be invaluable to Government who will be much better able to respond in the event of a disease outbreak.
The ability to know the location of every animal in the country in real time will be particularly useful to companies operating in the meat industry. The new service will increase operating efficiency by allowing them to see what animals are coming through the supply chain and plan production capacity accordingly.
Nick Allen, now Chief Executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said “I’m very proud that the work John Cross and I started four years ago has now become a reality.”
“The new Livestock Information Service will put Britain at the forefront of farm to fork traceability and cement our position as one of the world’s best food producing nations.”
BMPA is now looking forward to working with its members to help them get the most out of the Livestock Information Service once it is launched.