USDA Proposing Use of Blockchain For Organic Product Supply Chain

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA is proposing the use of blockchain technology to help trace the organic product supply chain. They suggest that DLT could play an essential role in making the supply chain of organic products more traceable.

USDA interested in blockchains

An August 5 report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) noted that electronic tracking systems like blockchain could play a key role in adding traceability to the supply chain of its organic products.

The report states,

“DLT can provide secure, verifiable, transparent, and near-instantaneous tracking at the item level in complex supply chains. Critically, DLT can also protect confidential business information and trade secret information by automatically restricting sensitive information to authorized entities.”

The agency also acknowledged that leveraging an emerging technology like blockchain will demand additional development and time before an adequate system can be established in the organic food industry. The proposed amendment also says that there are barriers to the widespread adoption of such a system. It includes the lack of technology access in rural areas, costs of distribution, and the acceptance of universal standards like interoperability.

Supply chain test cases

The USDA did not mention blockchain technology explicitly but hinted towards several blockchain based systems like a blockchain traceability system being used by Walmart. The DLT system is being used for tracking pork and mangos. Nestle, the Swiss-headquartered food retail behemoth is also testing the use of a public blockchain for supply chains of milk. Bumble Bee Foods, a US-based seafood firm is also using blockchains to monitor the supply chain of Indonesian yellowfin tuna.

The proposal is up for review and comments by all individuals, organizations, and businesses that are not currently participating in the global organic agricultural product supply chain. They must not be currently required to be certified under the existing USDA program.