Firm highlights blockchain technology
On March 14, The Casual Cattle Conversations Podcast welcomed Gregg Barfield, founder and president of LedgerSpace LLC, a software solutions firm specializing in blockchain technology, to discuss utilizing blockchain technology in the beef supply chain.
Blockchain technology allows producers to record and track animal data such as health protocols, performance indicators, current locations and progress across the supply chain.
What is blockchain?
Barfield mentions blockchain offers a way for producers to record information in a secure fashion.
“Blockchain is what we call immutable,” he says. “The data can’t be altered after entering it, and blockchain is decentralized – the data is not kept on a central server. Any time you have data kept on a central server, there’s a possibility someone can break in and hack it.”
Instead of a central server, blockchain is kept on nodes which are on computers everywhere, Barfield says.
“Blockchain acts as a mechanism of trust,” he adds. “It’s a way for people to trust the data they are seeing.”
Blockchain is often associated with crypto currencies, but there are a lot of other uses for blockchain, Barfield says.
Blockchain isn’t like the internet in the sense of privacy, Barfield notes. People can only view data on a blockchain if they have permission from the creator.
“A producer can grant access to whomever they want to see the information,” he says. “A producer could just have themselves, the feedlot and the packer able to view their data if they wanted.”
Utilizing blockchain in
the beef industry
Barfield notes there is data being collected at every sector of the beef supply chain, from rancher to processor. Because the beef supply chain is fragmented, it has been difficult in the past for sectors of the chain to share data.
“The beef industry is one of the few industries in the world where data is not able to be shared from one end of the supply chain all the way to the other,” he says. “Usually when the cattle leave the ranch the producers don’t get to see the cattle again, they have no idea how it graded out or anything.”
He says producers utilizing blockchain can receive carcass data back from the other end of the beef chain.
“This can help producers improve their practices,” Barfield says. “We feel as more and more producers use blockchain, the quality of their products will go up.”
Sustainability is a huge topic in agriculture, and producers are being pressured to show how their operations are sustainable, he mentions.
“All of this sustainability data has to be tracked by producers,” he says. “If a producer has valuable claims – grass fed, no hormones, antibiotic free, etc., the claims need to be tracked to gain trust of the consumer.”
He mentions farmers and ranchers are hard-working individuals who work to improve the health, nutrition and genetics of their animals. Sometimes, this hard work goes unnoticed.
“We are giving producers a platform to show data and get noticed in the market,” Barfield says.
Barfield hopes producers recognize blockchain brings value to the industry, and he encourages producers to stay open-minded.
“Producers are going to have to be forward thinking and not be afraid of change,” he says. “Future generations are used to using data,” Barfield notes. “We need to make data a part of the beef industry so future generations want to be in this business.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.