An organization promoting the Bitcoin economy and another focused on supporting the local beef industry have formed a seemingly unlikely partnership to improve community health and financial security.
Organizers with regionally based Bitcoin Bay and the Florida Beef Initiative have united to showcase solutions that foster localized food supply chains. Together, they hope to build a decentralized network of like-minded consumers and businesses.
June, who only goes by his first name, founded the Florida Beef Initiative. He explained how the recently formed collaboration was a natural fit as his organization emphasizes sound money and health.
“Bitcoin, in our perspective, being the soundest money,” June said. “And beef being the soundest pathway to good health.”
The Beef Initiative started in Texas as a trade group determined to increase food source localization, redundancy and security. A Florida chapter followed, a natural fit due to the state’s extensive cattle industry history.
An industry in peril
However, Floridians are losing their homegrown beef. A 2019 Fox News report noted that the state loses about 175,000 acres of farmland annually.
That same year – before the pandemic era land boom – Florida Raised said state ranchers “are in a life-or-death battle” to preserve the over 500-year-old beef industry. The organization attributed increased competition from Mexican and South American producers and rapidly narrowing profit margins for the “historic decline” in local cattle stocks.
June said the Beef Initiative promotes regenerative agriculture. That means cattle raised, slaughtered and processed in Florida.
Leonard Horak, owner of Manatee County’s Circle 6 ranch, is the Initiative’s first local partner. He also joined June at a recent Bitcoin Bay Business Workshop.
June credited local Bitcoin enthusiasts for helping launch the Initiative due to their focus on educating the business community and consumers on the importance of diversifying their monetary holdings.
“Look at where this money has led us,” he added. “It led us to this rancher, who – we’ve been looking for this guy forever. It was a pretty beautiful marriage.”
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, and stakeholders want to decentralize the beef industry. The “Big Four” meat conglomerates – JBS Foods, Tyson Foods, Cargill and Marfrig – control about 85% of the feedlot cattle.
In June 2022, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger wrote that the companies raked in record profits while consumer prices soared. June said the Big Four buy South American beef grown with steroids and other substances illegal in the U.S., which leads to poor health outcomes and hurts local economies.
“And it’s stamped with USDA Prime, and nobody knows the difference because it came through one of their processing centers,” he added. “So, what decentralizing the food supply means is basically for beef … making sure that every county has a microprocessor. They can process their beef. They can verify that their food is real.”
Similarly, June said centralized financial institutions have a stranglehold on the nation’s banking system. Like many people, he believes bitcoin can serve as a hedge against artificial inflation.
How Bitcoin can help
Wesley Schlemmer, executive director of Bitcoin Bay, said his organization started with informal weekly events educating people on the apex cryptocurrency’s basics. It has since progressed into an official entity with a significant business network.
He noted that Tampa-based Blockspaces recently integrated Quickbooks software into the Lightning Network, which allows people to complete transactions with bitcoin nearly instantaneously for a fraction of credit card and wire transfer processing fees.
“As the tools have got much better, usability increased,” Schlemmer said. “It’s not just for nerds by nerds. More people have gotten involved and started making things actually practical.”
In addition, he said it was always a goal to use Bitcoin to support the local beef industry and mitigate Covid-induced supply chain disruptions.
Schlemmer noted decentralization provides resiliency in times of crisis. If a health or economic issue forces a meat conglomerate to close – even temporarily – it would propel the nation into a food shortage and cause prices to soar.
He said oil and banking conglomerates, those “too big to fail,” could have the same widespread effects. Schlemmer does not expect businesses to conduct all transactions with Bitcoin, but believes an alternate payment structure empowers owners and consumers.
“We at Bitcoin Bay are really trying to create a trusted network, and this business workshop is one aspect of that,” he said. “We have a directory; there’s a mechanic near you that takes bitcoin, there’s a landscaping guy and there’s a beef guy. We’re not under the impression that we’re going to get the entire bay and everyone on Bitcoin.”
Schlemmer relayed that his organization did not market the Florida Beef Initiative launch outside its network. Circle 6 sold $3,000 worth of beef in bitcoin at the event two weeks ago.
He added that demand for decentralized payments and businesses continues to grow alongside the state’s population, and many who move to the area are “freedom oriented.” Schlemmer expressed his desire for the region to become a vacation destination for Bitcoin enthusiasts.
In addition to the weather, beaches and myriad local attractions, June said visitors could also meet local ranchers. While Bitcoin Bay is creating a business network highlighting all industries, Schlemmer noted the importance of food producers.
“If we have sound money, we have sound food,” he said. “That’s half, at least, of most people’s lives – can I afford to pay my bills, and can I get food on my table that’s not going to poison me.”
The Florida Beef Initiative accepts bitcoin as payment for its locally sourced products through Bitcoin Bay and Via the Oshi app. Customers can pick up their beef boxes at the April 23 Bitcoin Bay Business Workshop, and delivery will launch soon.
For more information, visit the website here.