A radical new digital agrifood data platform will provide Australian agriculture with a state-of-the-art information exchange across the supply chain.
Conceptualised by KPMG and Integrity Systems Company – a commercial subsidiary of Meat and Livestock Australia – the Australian AgriFood Data Exchange will allow users to securely and selectively share data with supply chain partners.
Receiving significant backing from private and public partners, and an initial $4 million in funding, the exchange aims to improve market access for Australian agriculture and food producers by reducing regulatory compliance and streamlining traceability processes.
The platform has also been expanded to allow users to identify and anticipate biosecurity risks and record performance data for benchmarking.
Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said that the data exchange will help to improve compliance and traceability processes and improve market access for food producers by providing a point of difference to competing exporters.
“Market access for our products depends on trusted supply chains and trusted compliance and quality assurance data accompanying the products,” he said.
“This project is another example of how the Australian Government is backing Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries to access and grow export earnings as the industry strives to meet and exceed its $100 billion farmgate value target by 2030.”
Mirjana Price, the Managing Director of the Food and Agriculture Growth Centre – one of the supporters of the initiative – said that the exchange was needed to help Australian producers remain competitive in a global trading environment.
“An industry-wide data exchange is the critical infrastructure that will help Australia’s food and beverage industry to enhance the quality and assurance of products and provide opportunities for value differentiation against other leading agrifood exporting nations,” said Ms Price.
To date, the system has been tested to ascertain its capability to deliver benchmarking services to the grains industry, biosecurity for viticulture, compliance and certification for sheepmeat and wool, and traceability for the rock lobster sector.
Farmers Split over Agrifood Data Security
Having long experienced data mining by agricultural technology companies, many farmers remain guarded about their commercial information.
Western Australian grower and agronomist Doug Smith has long been concerned about farm data being shared with third parties, without the consent or acknowledgement of the grower.
“You know [data is] tremendously valuable, and they’re exceptionally good at extracting maximum value out of everything they do,” he said.
“You’d be pretty naive to think that’s not being on-sold to others.”
While users of the exchange will have to comply with the National Farmers’ Federation’s Code of Conduct, Mr Smith is still unconvinced.
“I’ve got a bit of a love-hate relationship with codes of conduct. They’re sometimes not worth the paper they’re written on,” he said.
“It only keeps honest people honest. I’d like to see things a bit more enshrined in legislation.”
Victorian grazier Tim Leeming said that farmers should be more open to sharing data to boost consumer confidence and supply chain traceability.
“Let’s be transparent on farm. Most progressive producers that want to maintain their good price they’re receiving at the moment would jump at it,” he said.