The Livestock Information Programme (LIP) objective remains to deliver a single, multispecies livestock traceability service that meets the needs of both industry and government by replacing outdated existing services. The service will have as much commonality between the processes, user interfaces and data to be captured across species as is sensible, but will accommodate differences where they are legitimate. A key design principle is for the new service to be as simple to use as possible, recognising that the people making notifications are busy moving animals and not necessarily sitting in offices.
While initially, the data collected is likely to be the same as now, the Livestock Information Service (LIS) will drive improvements including paperless processes and more timely reporting, and will put data sharing at the heart in order to enable improvements in animal health and welfare, productivity and competitiveness. The LIS will completely replace the three legacy services that trace cattle, pigs, and sheep, goats and deer and will aim to do so by the end of 2022.
The Livestock Information Programme is working closely with Defra and counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who are driving parallel projects to build their own multi-species livestock traceability services. Our joint objective is to build services that work as seamlessly as possible across borders and come together to create a view of UK data that can be used for animal health, food safety and trade purposes.
The programme’s original business plan outlined two major milestones in the creation of the LIS: first, build a multispecies system; second, implement it. The Livestock Information Programme completed its initial multispecies phase of the programme in September, now fully built with cattle and sheep functionality.
Our first priority to transition to the LIS is sheep. This is because the existing sheep service – ARAMS – is an England-only service and our replacement will also be an England-only service. Therefore, it is within our control, with nothing preventing a full transition to the LIS. We also think that there are opportunities to improve in due course the quality of traceability, and potentially help to provide the industry with data that could help with international trade post EU transition.
In terms of switching users from ARAMS to the LIS, our objective is to transition as many users as possible by the end of March 2021, but a complete transition by then is not critical. We are not aiming for a formal launch but instead are taking an iterative approach. This will start small, enabling us to learn and improve as we go, looking at how different users engage with the service, including those who use post and fax and email, and those who engage online including through third-party software providers. We don’t expect much, or even any, change in the first instance. For example, people currently reporting using paper would continue to do so. Those who use the new digital user interface will have a better experience, but that will simply hint at better things to come. To start with, our aim must be to make sure that the transition is as easy as possible for people who need to use the system, and to ensure that the quality of traceability is not compromised.
That does not mean that we are losing our ambition to make a step change in the quality of traceability and how users can record and report moves in the future. In parallel to transitioning from ARAMS to the LIS, Livestock Information is working with Defra policy colleagues to explore whether we can run a pilot for end-to-end digital reporting, removing paper that is currently required for sheep in transit. We will of course carry out pilot activity in close engagement with the Traceability Design User Group (TDUG) and real-life users. While this is a simple change in concept, the devil will be in the detail and it is important to us that we do not accidentally make processes harder for any users involved in the end to end movement process.
Meanwhile, the Livestock Information Programme is still working hard on its ear tag allocation system (previously known as LUIS). We also continue to invest in new data systems and people who can run them, to pull insight from the Livestock Information Service and make it more available to a range of users. This is central to our overall mission to underpin industry wide improvements, but we need to tread carefully and respectfully to make sure that we do not inappropriately share data that is personally or commercially sensitive. We will need to feel our way into this new journey, and are committed to working with Defra, AHDB and TDUG to feel our way and to make sure that we get this right.