CHICAGO — Industry thought leaders discussed blockchain and its impact on the agricultural and food industries at the Illinois Soybean Association’s (ISA) annual Insights Summit held last week in Chicago. Nearly 40 attendees explored the latest developments in blockchain technology, applications, case studies and benefits for the global economy.
“This event opened my eyes to what will be coming,” says Lynn Rohrscheib, ISA chairwoman and a soybean farmer from Fairmount, Illinois. “The Insights Summit continues to help ISA push the envelope and explore new technological innovations.”
“Blockchain is not a cryptocurrency. It is what makes cryptocurrency possible,” says Tanner Ehmke, Knowledge Exchange Division manager at CoBank. “Blockchain is a type of distributed or shared ledger system that will develop immense efficiencies in many industries.”
Phil Harris, Ripe.io president and founder, says, “Blockchain supports the full digitization of a supply chain’s participants, data and workflow. Through distributed ledgers, blockchain allows organizations to validate the truth of that ecosystem; such as showcasing real sustainability.”
“With consumer interest in their food at an all-time high, transparency is key,” adds Isaac Olvera, commodity market analyst, Informa Economics IEG. Ninety-four percent of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency. Blockchain is able to provide that.
Olvera discussed consumer spending and their likelihood to pay more for a transparent product by using ZhongAn-Gogo Chicken of China as an example and their ability to use blockchain to show transparency and benefits through major price premiums and consumer satisfaction.
Joe Renz, president at New Mobility Labs, discussed how data transactions can be made peer-to-peer with no middleman. “With everything running on a distributed ledger system, data will become the new oil within society,” he says.
As the event came to an end, Renz and Harris challenged attendees. Renz noting, “If you were handed a memory stick with all your data, what would you do with it?” And Harris stating that every attendee is capable of writing their own rules in the blockchain space. “Early engagement is key because the speed of adoption with this technology is very rapid,” he says.
“Technology adoption and innovation around the world is moving fast with many implications for agriculture,” says Craig Ratajczyk, ISA CEO. “Agriculture is going to undergo a large transformation within the next decade. Those who adapt, improvise and overcome will be around while others will face challenges. Events like this summit allow ISA to continue frequently thinking about these innovative topics and make changes to adapt before it is too late.”
The ISA checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmers’ interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C., through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit ilsoy.org.
— Illinois Soybean Association
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