The NPA producer group has asked the Red Tractor pork board to give producers more time to enter data onto eMB-Pigs once the database becomes a compulsory element of the scheme.
The eMB-Pigs system is set up for data to be entered quarterly. By November 1, 2017, Red Tractor pork scheme producers must have uploaded total antibiotic usage onto it for the quarters ending June 30, 2017, and September 30, 2017.
Red Tractor is currently proposing that producers will need to enter their data within a month of the end of the previous quarter. This is due to be voted on at a Red Tractor pork meeting on Thursday.
Red Tractor pork chairman Mike Sheldon told the NPA producer group at its meeting in London on Tuesday: “We will expect every producer to have a minimum one-month turnaround from the end of each quarter.”
But he stressed that, in the vast majority of cases, producers will get longer than that. Over the four quarters, producers will have a turnaround of anything from four to 13 weeks, depending on where the assessment falls, with an average of around six to seven weeks, Mr Sheldon said.
He explained various scenarios. “For the January-March quarter, if you have a Red Tractor assessment during April, you will need data up to the end of December (as this is less than one month from the end of March).
“But, if you have an audit on the first of May, we would expect you to have data up to the end of March.”
AHDB Pork is currently working with vets and feed companies to find ways to present antibiotic data in a clear manner for producers.
But Mr Sheldon added: “It is the producers’ responsibility to make sure the data is entered and to get the data from their vet or feed company. If the producer says they haven’t got the data as the feed company hasn’t sent it, that is a non-conformance.”
Producers responded by insisting a month was ‘too tight’. They said they wanted to make the requirement work but feared they would be unable to comply with the four-week window.
The producer group was unanimous in calling for a minimum six-week turnaround. NPA chairman Richard Lister said: “A lot of these systems are taking three to four weeks to generate the information.”
Vet Duncan Berkshire, junior vice president of the Pig Veterinary Society, said PVS had told Red Tractor ‘six weeks would be more appropriate’ because of the way the data systems work.
NPA producer group chairman Phil Stephenson asked Mr Sheldon to take the producers groups’ views to Thursday’s meeting.
He said: “We as a group feel that six weeks would be far more sensible. For the sake of two weeks, it seems nonsensical not to allow the extra time. Every producer here has asked for six weeks.”
Mr Sheldon said the four or six-week period had already been debated within the Red Tractor’s technical advisory committee and confirmed he would feed back the views of the producer group to the Red Tractor pigs board, which will ‘make the call on Thursday’.
He said: “The objective is to make the process timely and credible. It is a matter of trying to strike a balance between what is practical and having a credible message to persuade consumers, and also the Government, NGOs sand retailers, that we know what we are doing.”