Richard Webber – Sheep Farmer &
MD of Shearwell Data Limited

It was on a trip to Brussels in 1990, where I realised there would be more pressure on subsidies due to enlargement of the European Union. At that time, CAP was and still is unsustainable, recently there has been a bad downturn in profits, enlargement is now happening and there is an even greater need to have more control over what we produce.

Since 1990 we have developed our livestock program ‘FarmWorks by Shearwell Data’ to try and prove a concept. That is, through better management of stock we can improve profits on a farm by individually identifying those animals that are profitable and those that are not.

I am convinced that by sharing this farm information on a National basis we could substantially enhance all of our profits, thus the concept of the National Livestock Management Database has been formed.

It’s been a long proving ground, nearly 14 years but I am convinced that the only way we can go forward is to put our data, our own data …that’s my data as a farmer and your data as a farmer in one central place, and start to use that to improve our profitability.

I regard animal data as the last great untapped agricultural commodity, so often in the past we as farmers have waved goodbye to the full value of what we produce by not being involved with it beyond the farm gate. I am determined that this will not be the case with animal data and that the full value of animal information will be returned to the owner of the animals of which the data originated.

We have invested heavily in this, but the principle is that the NLMD will be held by and run by farmers in the majority. I feel that there are too many people outside of farming who are making money out of farmers’ data, The National Livestock Management Database will allow us, as farmers, to benefit from our information.

I invite you to look at the concept, talk about it and find out where it can benefit you most. If we all work together and join in, then we have a huge opportunity to improve so many aspects of our business.