Ontario farmers make first blockchain system corn sale

An Ontario startup company facilitated the trade of high-DON corn

Some Ontario farmers have used a new grain sales system to sell some of their corn high in DON.

Prince Edward County farmers Larry Reynolds and Lloyd Crowe used the Grain Discovery platform to find a new local buyer, confirm the trade and receive payment instantly.

Grain Discovery says this is the first corn trade directly from a farmer to a buyer through a blockchain system in the world.

Why it matters: Companies like Grain Discovery believe trading on blockchain-based systems can provide farmers with selling alternatives, with faster, more secure payment settlement.

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Blockchain is a ledger that through algorithms and mirroring on multiple servers assures security. It can also provide the food system with greater traceability.

On Christmas Eve Larry Reynolds had just had another truckload of corn rejected by his local elevator due to high DON concentrations. Grain Discovery approached him to try its new blockchain-based grain trading platform.

Reynolds was trucking corn from the farm he operates with nephew Lloyd Crowe. A rejection would mean hours more on the road trying to find an alternative buyer.

“By using Grain Discovery, we were not only able to avoid hours of searching for a new buyer, but found one just down the road, at a better price than the original deal, and were paid instantly,” said Reynolds.

The buyer was a grain elevator and trader in their area.

“Farming technology in the agricultural industry is incredibly advanced,” explained Rory O’Sullivan, CEO of Grain Discovery. “However, the way grain is bought and sold hasn’t changed much since our grandparents were farming! In the age of Amazon and eBay, we reckoned the industry deserves better.”

Grain Discovery is an Ontario-based agriculture startup that aims to use its system to give farmers more marketing alternatives while providing more traceability through the system. Farmers can post what they have available and buyers can choose what they wish to buy. The trades are then completed through the blockchain-based system.

O’Sullivan says that they are working on other pilot projects this year, including tracing soybeans from seed in Canada to the export market in Japan and coffee from Columbia to cafés in Canada.

“If blockchain technology means a few extra dollars in my pocket and a few hours less trucking, then that’s a win,” said Reynolds.

Large companies like Walmart and IBM are partnering on projects that will trade food products to their origins using blockchain.

The expectation is that could help limit the extent of food safety recalls, such as the romaine lettuce recalls of the past six months.

 

Updated Jan. 21, 2019

About the author

Editor

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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