Blockchain technology finds a home on the range in Wyoming

WYOMING – With the recent passage of several bills paving the way for blockchain technology to flourish in Wyoming, many were concentrating on the digital currency aspect; namely, Bitcoin.

But the new laws will do more than put the Cowboy State on the forefront of crypto-currency. It’s the technology behind new money like Bitcoin that has as least one beef rancher in Wyoming excited about the prospects.

Crypto-cattle

Sen. Ogden Driskill (center), earlier this month oversees the tagging of his first “blockchain calves” intended to be tracked on a distributed ledger. (Tony Rose)

When you think about it, blockchain technology is perfectly suited to the beef industry and cattle ranchers. And Wyoming is poised at the epicenter of a techno-business perfect storm. Wait, what?

It’s true. Basically, blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of data. It is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.

What does all that mean, and how can it be applied to the beef market?

Take, for instance, a typical cattle rancher like Ogden Driskill. Driskill runs about 1,200 head on a 10,000-acre spread called the Campstool Ranch at the base of Devil’s Tower in the northeast part of the state. Driskill also happens to be a state senator who helped push through blockchain bills at the last legislative session.

Here’s what he’s on to. First, Wyoming is home to a tried-and-true commodity: beef. Wyoming beef is trusted in a world of ever-growing concern over the reliability of our food. Disease and contamination are just a couple of the things that could go wrong with your steak.

Ranchers get the RFID ear tag in place so this calf’s entire history will be known to all. (Tony Rose)

What blockchain brings to the table (literally) is traceability. Wyoming beef producers are well-known for their high standards in the care and handling of their herds. Legacy ranches, small herds, and stress-free environments make Wyoming beef ranchers stand above all other producers.

Now, with blockchain technology, the supply chain for beef production is easily traceable from pasture-to-plate. Consumers can have assurance their meal comes from a grass-fed cow on open range, for instance, through the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) ear tags and anchored by blockchain technology. That has never been done before.

Another reason “beefchain” (that’s a trademarked name, by the way—more on that later) makes perfect sense on the range is its inherent trustability.

Today’s beef producers are finding a vibrant marketplace for so-called “craft beef.” Like craft beers, boutique beef is quickly becoming a thing. Restaurants want to buy locally because they know the ranch their meat is coming from. Grocery shoppers are pickier about making purchases based on label reading—Non-GMO, hormone-free, free range have all become important to consumers.

But how do we really know if that T-bone came from an honest-to-goodness grass-fed cow that lived its life on the Wyoming range as opposed to a hormone-boosted bovine from a cramped Indiana feedlot?

Hightech meets Wyoming heritage

Meet BeefChain. It’s the first end-to-end integrated and unbreakable supply chain and finance platform for exporting Wyoming Certified Beef all over the world. BeefChain connects the best Wyoming beef producers with the supply chain technology to make Wyoming products.

Branding gets underway on the Campstool Ranch. (Tony Rose)

Rob Jennings, CEO of BeefChain—the blockchain traceability platform that Wyoming Certified Beef LLC is using—says the technology is opening up a new conversation in the state about how to best market Wyoming beef.

“Blockchain allows us to define all the data points that make Wyoming beef special,” he said. “And this means cattle producers can grab a premium for their product. Finally, we have a verifiable way of showing-off these data points.”

Tony Rose, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and CTO of BeefChain, points to a perfect marriage of Wyoming’s legacy beef and groundbreaking blockchain legislation passed in Cowboy State that paves the way for the blockchain branding.

“The United States has created a very unfriendly environment for crypto-entrepreneurs,” Rose said. “But Wyoming—through the passage of these five blockchain bills—has created a sandbox where we can innovate on blockchain technology without having unnecessary regulatory oversight that the SEC has created.”

Kurt James, former Head of Supply Chain for McDonald’s, said blockchain technology will help tell the story that Wyoming cattle producers need to tell.

“The more you know about where the food started, the better,” James said. “Wyoming needs to brand their beef better because buyers want to know this information. It’s called farm-to-fork and in Australia it’s called paddock-to-plate. This information provides value back to the producers.”

https://youtu.be/nx2bBJ8KWu8


Wyoming Certified Beef, LLC is a for profit company focused on providing solutions for Wyoming stockgrowers through its proprietary BeefChain.io platform. BeefChain.io is a blockchain traceability project being led by Wyoming Blockchain Coalition founder Rob Jennings, entrepreneur and blockchain developer Tony Rose and ranchers Ogden Driskill and Tyler Lindholm. Advisers to the project include the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Business Council, Tru-Test scanners and Wyoming based company Y-Tex.

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Buckrail

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