Judging by the Internet 2012 Bus Tour panel discussion held yesterday in Lexington, Kentucky, everyone on the tour bus believes an open internet can change just about every type of business.
Robert Roderick, head of product technology for AgLocal, spoke with WebProNews about how AgLocal is hoping to change meat industry over the next few years.
AgLocal is a technology platform that seeks to connect local pasture-raised meat producers, wholesalers, and retailers with more distribution channels that aren't normally available to them. The company is less that 8 months old, but has been backed by Marc Ecko and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Roderick also said the company is getting attention from some big clients (billion-dollar retail restaurants) that he couldn't disclose.
"We created an online platform so local farms can go to this platform and put their meat for sale," said Roderick. "Then distributors and retailers can go on this platform and purchase this meat."
The process isn't all about how meat is bought and sold, though. AgLocal, according to Roderick wants consumers to know exactly where the meat they are eating comes from.
"End consumers can come to our platform, find out what retailers, grocery stores, or restaurants are serving this meat and find out exactly where this meat is coming from," said Roderick. "They can find out the history of the farm."
The platform will also put more control in the hands of local farmers by digitizing payments through Dwolla. Farmers will also be able to manage their livestock inventory through AgLocal, enabling them to get better prices for their meat.
Judging by Roderick's statements, AgLocal will also follow how the animals are treated before slaughter. He related an anecdote about an AgLocal farm in California that cared for its pigs enough to put aloe on their skin to prevent sunburns, weeks before they were scheduled to die.
"You will not get that type of commitment to an animal is big ag," said Roderick. "You will get that type of commitment in small, local farms. And that's what this is about, it's about local, small farms who aren't getting these government subsidies."
Roderick stated that AgLocal's goal is no less than to change the way Americans eat meat. Ambitious, sure, but everyone on the Internet 2012 bus tour was flush with a drive to use the internet and the communities it forms to change the way established industries work. It isn't inconceivable that AgLocal could change agriculture in the U.S., given the aggregative power of the internet.
"What's crazy is that it may cost a little more to use AgLocal, but in the long run - of the United States and the way that we do meat farming - it's more sustainable, it makes everybody more money, and it saves money," said Roderick. "AgLocal is about responsible farming, healthier meat, and keeping more money in local economies."