Electronic system helps pork industry meet traceability requirements

AgManifest logo

A new electronic manifesting system developed in Ontario will help the province’s pork industry meet traceability requirements.

Ontario Pork, together with the province’s two largest pork processors, Conestoga Meat Packers Ltd. and Sofina Foods, has developed AgManifest, which will replace the paper-based receipts that have traditionally been used when shipping livestock.

Reporting the movement of pigs in Canada, whether from farm to farm, for export or to market, became mandatory on July 1, 2014 through a national swine traceability database called PigTrace Canada.

Each pig is identified with a tattoo number and every farm location has what is called a Premises Identification Number.

“AgManifest fits together nicely with PigTrace, letting Ontario Pork easily and accurately transfer electronic shipping data into the national movement database,” explains Neil Harper, Ontario Pork’s Manager of Information Systems.

To date, handwritten paper receipts have always accompanied a shipment of pigs going to market, with copies given to the farmer, the transporter, the processing plant, and Ontario Pork.

Information from those receipts is manually keyed in, which can lead to errors, and sending manifest receipts by mail could result in delays. The paper receipts also don’t allow for all the information to be captured that the new traceability rules require.

AgManifest HandheldAgManifest is a web-based program with both an office interface for transporters to schedule hog pickups electronically and handheld devices for web-based access on the go.

 

It was written in HTML 5 so that information can be stored on a handheld unit even if there is no web access, and it will sync automatically with the AgManifest database once it reconnects to the Internet.

It will also automatically report animal movement information to PigTrace, lightening that administrative load for farmers and others in the industry.

Using AgManifest, processors can electronically upload their schedules for receiving hogs and transporters can login to see when they are booked to deliver animals to which processor.

Handheld devices are used to confirm the number of animals being picked up and delivered while transporters are enroute.

“We tested the program in a pilot project with six transporters and made improvements to the system as they were using it,” says Harper. “We now have about a dozen transporters using it and those that are, are very happy with how it helps them keep track of information.”

Ontario Pork is now working with both major processors to enhance their systems so that they can extract data from AgManifest to pay producers for the animals they send to market.

That’s expected to be complete later on this year, after which Harper says there will be renewed efforts to roll out the system to more transporters.

“AgManifest increases the accuracy of the information, lessens the need for manual data input and eliminates the chance of errors during keying in of information, which makes our whole traceability system more accurate and more efficient,” says Harper.

Although AgManifest was developed specifically for Ontario’s pork industry by Guelph-based Oasys Integration Ltd, it was designed to be adaptable for other livestock commodities too.

The AgManifest project was funded in part through the Traceability Foundations Initiative (TFI), a federal-provincial cost-shared initiative under the Agricultural Flexibility Fund, and by Ontario Pork, Conestoga Meat Packers Ltd., Sofina Foods Pork Operations, and Quality Meats.