USDA proposes blockchain registration for organic supply chain

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed to modify its rules on organic products to include the implementation of blockchain technology to track their supply chain.

According to an August 5 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) (USDA), the agency said it expects electronic tracking systems, including distributed recording technology (DLT), to play a „critical role“ in the traceability of its organic supply chain.

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

However, the agency acknowledged that using an emerging technology like DLT would require additional time and development before a system could be implemented in the organic food industry.

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„Barriers to the widespread adoption of an electronic monitoring system include inadequate access to technology and connectivity in rural areas, acceptance of universal electronic standards (interoperability) and cost sharing,“ the proposed amendment states.

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The USDA report did not mention blockchain technology by name, but cited several pilot programs as references, including Walmart, which uses blockchain traceability systems for mangoes and pork, the Swiss-based food retail giant Nestlé, which is testing a public blockchain for its milk supply chain, and Bumble Bee Foods, a U.S.-based seafood company, which oversees Indonesia’s yellowfin tuna supply chain.

Any individual, company or organization involved in the global supply chain of organic agricultural products that is not currently required to be certified under the existing USDA program may review the proposed regulation and submit comments by October 5.