Digital Passport 2024 (combinable crops) proposals – have your say

Drying grain floor

Following the industry-wide consultation on the original business case for a digital passport, the NFU is seeking feedback from members on the updated proposals.

In recent months, the leadership group, facilitated by the AHDB and made up of industry bodies including the NFU, has been working on proposals for a digital passport (combinable crops) to eventually replace the current paper passport.

At the end of 2023, the group published a business case and the NFU reached out to its membership to ask for their feedback on the proposal.

The feedback received was extensive and wide-ranging, and combined with feedback from the rest of the supply chain, the industry group has been working to update the business case to address all of the concerns raised.

New business case

This updated business case has now been published, and the NFU National Crops Board is in agreement that the issues raised by members have been addressed.

Read our breakdown on the business case below to get to the detail.

The NFU also set out 5 key principles that the digital passport must meet, which the National Crops Board believes the updated business case now does.

One of the most significant changes to the business case is that the onus has changed from a decision to change the paper passport to a digital passport, to a decision on whether the industry would like one AHDB-owned digital passport which holds all data centrally instead of multiple systems with the data owned by individual businesses.

This is because the supply chain has made clear that it will bring its own digital systems to the industry if there is no agreement on a universal system.

Have your say

The NFU combinable crops team would like to hear from members on the updated business case through Regional Crops Board meetings and upcoming events such as Cereals.

The board encourages you to read the business case in detail and share any views with the relevant board members in your region.

7 June 2024

Updated business case explained

The industry group which has been meeting regularly to discuss the digital passport have now published an updated version of the business case.

Following the consultation on the original business case, the proposal has been updated to address the concerns raised.

The onus of the business case has switched from comparing the proposal against the current paper passport to whether one, universal industry-wide digital passport is preferable to a number of different digital passport systems introduced by larger processors and merchants to meet their own needs.

The digital passport will replicate the current paper system, with two significant additions:

  • Live assurance checks during grain collection and delivery.
  • An obligation to pass weight and quality data digitally from recipient to supplier.

Alongside the updated business case, the industry group has also published a questions log which explains the changes that have been made to the proposal to address each concern raised. Some of the concerns specifically raised through the NFU consultation on the initial business case have been addressed below.


Where there is no internet, data will pass from one device to another via QR codes.

This will ensure logistics are not held up, and the system will update automatically once the device picks up data signal again.


Grant funding will be sought to cover the initial build, development, rollout and running costs.

For the business-as-usual phase, agreement with the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds sector council will be sought to use a combination of statutory AHDB levy and to continue pursuing further options for grant funding to cover the annual running costs.

Tech support

For those growers with no computer or smartphone today and who are not familiar with using such technology, there will be an option to telephone the AHDB helpdesk.

The helpdesk will be able to go through the one-off process of registering your business and users, and subsequently, creating and populating passports, on your behalf.

There are several ways in which users can be supported in the event of devices being broken or flat or during local power cuts.

Users will be able to log in using any of their available digital devices, including a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

In-built functionality will make it easy to download a completed passport as a pdf, and the ability to email it to yourself or to someone else will provide flexible options for individual users to work around central system unavailability or local issues.

In addition, any passport created by a grower or store can be accessed by other users registered within that business.

There will be automated data replication, backup and recovery regimes to support business continuity, coupled with hosting across two geo-redundant datacentres.

This means that if there is an issue with one system it will automatically switch to the other, hosted in an entirely different location.

This will limit system downtime to an absolute minimum.

The full business case and questions log can be found on the AHDB website Digital Passport 2024 | AHDB.

2 February 2024

Consultation closes

This consultation has now closed.

2 February 2024

NFU submits response

As part of the industry-wide consultation on the proposal to implement a digital passport for combinable crop movements, the NFU has engaged with members through a range of different channels to form a response.

This included the member survey that was open from the start of December 2023, and discussions at regional crops boards.

From the outset the National Crops Board has supported the principle of a digital passport on the proviso that a number of key principles and tests have to be met for it to work.

These include:

  • It has to provide real-time quality feedback to growers to boost efficiency.
  • The IT has to be resilient and reliable for all areas and situations.
  • It has to offer a genuine benefit to growers.
  • The individual data included should be secure and confidential whilst the aggregate data has the potential to offer useful industry intelligence and insights.
  • It must be simple to use.

Based on the business case put forward, the NFU is not in a position to support progressing the digital grain passport in its current format.

A critical benefit of a digital passport for our members is the transparency and efficiency that immediate feedback of sample data at intake would deliver for their farm business. This must be guaranteed, not simply an ‘expectation’ as stated in the business case.

Furthermore, a number of practical challenges and concerns remain. The most common reason to oppose the digital passport – a lack of internet connection at grain stores – has already been addressed by the business case.

However, there is a wider issue with connectivity where some farm businesses do not have a smartphone or the computer literacy to use one.

The NFU would not be able to support the proposal if there is a chance that some members will not be able to trade their grain. Without a non-digital work round, this shortcoming is a significant block to the business case.

Further concerns raised by members include:

  • The cost of the system, with cost inflation having an impact on margins which are already being tightly squeezed.
  • The potential issues caused by devices running out of battery or system outages, including cyber attacks.
  • A perceived lack of flexibility versus the paper version, especially where there are late changes to logistics.

The NFU combinable crops board continues to support the principle of a digital passport, and will work with the Leadership Group to deliver increased transparency and efficiency in the combinable crops supply chain, but it is vital that these concerns, most notably around the immediate feedback of sample data, are addressed.

24 January 2024

NFU feedback form closes for responses

The NFU's feedback form has now closed.

20 November 2023

Consultation launches on digital grain passport

The background

Over the past twelve months, a group of people from across the arable supply chain and including the NFU, have been reviewing and revising the work previously undertaken by the AHDB and others to develop a DGP.

From the start, whilst the National Crops Board has supported the potential advantages of a DGP, they have been clear a number of key principles and tests have to be met for it to work and these include:

  • It must be simple to use.
  • It has to offer a genuine benefit to growers.
  • The IT has to be resilient and reliable for all areas and situations.
  • It has to provide real-time quality feedback to growers to boost efficiency.
  • The individual data included should be secure and confidential whilst the aggregate data has the potential to offer useful industry intelligence and insights.

What’s being proposed?

The proposal developed by three key groups – an Industry Leadership Group, an Industry Data Group, and an Industry Governance Group goes into more detail than can be fully summarised here, but some of the key parts of the proposal are that it is designed to deliver:

  • Growers receiving crop quality results in ‘real time’ allowing time to react with increased transparency on delivery. Real time means as soon as the test results are known by the recipient they are shared with growers via the DP.
  • Buyers fulfilling feed and food safety responsibilities can do so more comprehensively and efficiently.
  • Data will be securely aggregated, guarding individual confidentiality and yet providing valuable insights to the advantage of the whole supply chain.
  • It is a single, industry owned and controlled proposal, which replicates the current roles and responsibilities of the paper passport growers are used to. As a result, it may reduce the risk of multiple DGPs being developed by the industry which could bring greater complexity and administrative burden to growers.
  • The proposal clearly sets out both the cost of developing and establishing this DGP system, and the potential benefits and savings it offers. Section 11 of the business case explores the detail of this, and allows you to think about what it would mean for your business.
  • In simple terms, the business case says the development cost would be £500k, and the annual running cost would be £396k but the savings over 10 years would be £6 million.

This is just a simple summary of a detailed proposal, and we’d encourage as many of you as possible to read the information, FAQs document, and business case hosted on the AHDB website.

Next steps

The NFU Crops Board need to hear your feedback, on the proposal in general, and whether it meets the key tests and principles set out at the start of this process.

Only if widespread support is established will the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds Sector Council consider allocating levy funds to developing the system and other funding streams be pursued.

NFU crops board chair Matt Culley said: “The industry has worked hard to develop a proposal for a Digital Grain Passport 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 farm.

“The NFU has made a major contribution and worked to ensure members’ interests have remained at the forefront of the project development. But for this to proceed, we now need to hear feedback from our members, because the AHDB Sector Council will have to see widespread support before they consider allocating levy money to the project.”

Use the form on this page to submit your views to the board before 24 January.

17 November 2022

NFU meets with Cereals Liason Group

We’ve met with the CLG (Cereals Liaison Group) to discuss the proposed Digital Grain Passport and feed back members’ concerns.

The meeting had been called specifically to discuss the AHDB’s proposals for a DGP (Digital Grain Passport), and the feedback each organisation has gathered following the recent webinars outlining how it could work.

NFU Crops Board chair Matt Culley relayed the feedback the national and regional crops boards have received in recent weeks.

Addressing growers’ concerns

He said the NFU remains supportive of the project, but more work was required to ensure the concerns growers have expressed are addressed.

These specifically refer to questions around who is responsible for completing and holding each part of the DGP, how it will cope with those in areas with poor or limited access to the internet, is the process simple enough, and is the governance sufficiently robust?

Agreement across the board

The majority of representatives in the meeting took a similar position. They were supportive of the project, but some raised areas where their members would like to see some changes, or more work done.

The meeting agreed with this approach, and people welcomed the AHDB taking feedback on board. We hope everyone will now work together achieve this.

As the project develops, your NFU representatives will continue to stress that the DGP should at first focus on digitising the function, roles, and responsibilities of the paper passport.

Beyond this, it must bring real benefits to the grower by being more efficient than the paper system, and deliver a genuine and useful two-way flow of data back to farm. 

1 October 2022

DGP webinars

Throughout October, the AHDB held a series of webinars to explain how its proposed Digital Grain Passport scheme could work and to allow individuals and trade associations to make suggestions and raise any concerns.

If the new initiative is approved, the AHDB has committed to providing three years of levy funding to get the project off the ground.

If approved, the first system tests would then be expected to take place in 2023, followed by a phased adoption where for a three-year period both paper and digital systems would operate in tandem to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for growers, storekeepers drivers and intake staff alike.

This page was first published on 05 December 2023. It was updated on 07 June 2024.

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  • 7 June 2024: Updated business case for a digital passport is published.
  • 2 February 2024: NFU raises members' concerns on cost, technical issues and a lack of flexibility.
  • 20 November 2023: Consultation launches on the business case for implementing digital grain passports.
  • 17 November 2022: NFU meets with Cereals Liaison Group to discuss proposed DGP and feed back member concerns