Feedback from producers and agents around the transition from the hard copy national vendor declaration books to the electronic options suggests the process has not been executed as smoothly as people would have liked.
The information gathered in the NVDs is just one small part of the overall traceability and quality assurance protocols that we use as an exporting nation to build trust in our products, which is also one of the few remaining market advantages we have on a global stage where our competitors have the edge on cost of production, sudsidy support and distance to markets.
Various reports in recent years have shown one of the big hindrances to our export efficiency is the many bits of paperwork to be completed between farm and port.
A more seamless, digital process will help this flow of information, eventually contributing to overall supply chain efficiency.
However, a number of gaps are currently being highlighted as Meat & Livestock Australia and its subsidiary, Integrity Systems Company, push to get more producers across to the digital platforms.
Poor connectivity, poor phone reception and a lack of digital literacy are the obvious gaps in an industry-wide uptake, but are not the only shortcomings.
Levy payers been left wondering why the only NVD mobile apps so far available are those developed by private outfits, whom of course have to charge a fee to be viable.
As levy payers, it is fair to expect that the industry have in place a standard digital tool free of charge.
Of course, there is one being developed, but like the backlog on the hard copy NVD books, it is still coming.
As a result, agents have been caught with the hours of extra book work as they correctly complete producers' NVD forms.
Given producer frustration over system glitches, the app not yet released and the delivery of the new NVD books all proving problematic, it seems ISC and MLA have gone a bit hard a bit too early with their digital push.
In the longer term, the digital systems will save a lot of producers having to regularly update their NVD books, the system instead doing this automatically as the changes happen.
But irrespective of such advantages, the message from the ground is the paper option must remain available to accommodate the gaps, some of which may continue to remain beyond ISC's control.
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