History was made last week at the Campstool Ranch near Devils Tower, Wyoming when blockchain-based technology was employed at a cattle branding — the first time the technology has been used for such an endeavor.
The goal of the pilot made by Wyoming Certified Beef, LLC and Germany-based traceability solution provider TE-FOOD International is to showcase the premium living conditions of the cattle (grass-fed on an open range throughout their entire lives) thereby producing much higher quality cuts of beef to lucrative foreign markets. The verified ranch-to-table traceability of the cattle through RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) ear tags and anchored by blockchain technology has never been done before.
“Because of the way our cattle is raised, the beef is a much higher quality,” said Ogden Driskill, a Wyoming State Senator and owner of the Campstool Ranch. “The problem in the past has been communicating to buyers the difference between our cattle and the cattle raised in feedlots. This technology gives potential buyers the verified tracking ability to know exactly how each cow was raised.”
Rob Jennings, CEO of Wyoming Certified Beef, LLC and Beefchain.io — the blockchain traceability platform that Wyoming Certified Beef is using — said 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, CTO of Beefchain.io and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, said groundbreaking blockchain legislation passed in Wyoming earlier this year paved 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.”
Tyler Lindholm, the primary sponsor of blockchain legislation (along with Sen. Driskill) that passed in Wyoming earlier this year, appeared on CNBC recently to discuss the legislation.
“One of the best aspects of the legislation is none of them cost anything to the taxpayers of Wyoming,” he said. “All we’re really doing is opening up a regulatory gate to provide a sandbox for these developers to play in.”
Lee Stein, an entrepreneur who co-patented the world’s first Internet-banking (payment) system, was on hand for the event and compared the branding to the Internet revolution in the early 1990s.
“What they are doing here today is as dramatic and radical as what happened to the Internet with my company in 1993,” he said. “Ogden and the Driskill family are capturing magic in a bottle here.”
Kurt James, former VP of Supply Chain for McDonalds of Japan, who attended the branding said the 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.”
Jennings said the tagging at Campstool ranch was just the beginning. Two additional herds will be added from Pumpkin Buttes Ranch and Persson Ranch in early June, he said. This high quality Wyoming beef is expected to be exported to Asia starting in Q1 of 2019.
Wyoming Certified Beef, LLC is a for profit company focused on providing solutions for Wyoming stockgrowers through its proprietary BeefChain platform. BeefChain is a blockchain traceability project being led by Wyoming Blockchain Coalition founder Rob Jennings, ranchers Ogden Driskill and Tyler Lindholm, and entrepreneur and blockchain developer Tony Rose. Advisers to the project include the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Business Council, Tru-Test scanners, and Wyoming based company WY-Tex.
TE-FOOD is the world’s largest publicly accessible, farm-to-table fresh food traceability solution. Started in 2016, it serves 6000+ business customers, and handles 400,000 business transactions each day.