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AgTech Company News

Local ag tech firm launches digital platform to transform U.S. cotton industry

At first glance, the goal of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol seems daunting — to reduce the environmental footprint of the industry and make cotton farming more sustainable across the nation.

But, the digital platform usage is surprisingly simple. And it’s laid out, in a way, like TurboTax.

“It’s self-guided, and guides you through, step by step, with progression,” said Mark Pryor, CEO of The Seam. “When you’re keying in your information to do your taxes … they [TurboTax] make it simple. We’re doing that for farmers.”

The Seam — a Memphis-based software company that works with agribusinesses — announced the general release of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol on March 10. A digital platform, it provides farmers with a way to measure, improve, and showcase their environmental footprint, free of charge.

“We’re telling the story of sustainability, on behalf of a farmer,” Pryor said. “We’re providing the platform to capture the practices the farmer uses for his production of cotton, and his journey toward continuous improvement in that sustainability mission.”

Read more, via Memphis Business Journal.

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AgTech Company News

The Seam delivers U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol to digitize sustainability story for cotton farmers

MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 10, 2020 – The Seam, a leading provider of commodities trading and agriculture software solutions, today announced the general release of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, an integrated technology platform that allows U.S. cotton farmers to assess and verify production practices, environmental footprint and measurement of progress toward long-term sustainability goals.

The Trust Protocol was initiated by the National Cotton Council, which represents all U.S. cotton industry segments, including producers, ginners, warehousing, merchants, cooperatives, manufacturers and cottonseed. The Seam was named technology partner of the initiative in November 2018 by the National Cotton Council and the COTTON USA Sustainability Task Force. Mark Pryor, Chief Executive Officer at The Seam, was also named to the inaugural Board of Directors of the Trust Protocol in December 2019 as an advisor.

“We are honored to play a role in the development of technology that fuels the overall mission and message of U.S. agriculture sustainability,” said Pryor. “Working with the National Cotton Council, our goal was to provide a farmer-friendly platform for the cotton industry that promotes economic and environmental stewardship through quantifiable metrics and insights. We look forward to expanding our platform to other agricultural crops, including peanuts and soybeans, in the near future.”

Approximately 300 U.S. cotton producers have enrolled in the platform pilot that began in June 2019. The general release, which launches in April for the 2020 crop, will include a new bale registration and verification process that links actual cotton production to the sustainability profile of the grower. As a qualified data management partner with Field to Market, The Seam has also developed a new integration module for the Fieldprint® Platform, which allows science-based metrics and outcomes within a unified experience.

Through robust data metrics, analysis and insights, the Trust Protocol adds confidence and transparency throughout the supply chain – ensuring U.S. cotton remains the responsible choice for textile manufacturers, brands and retailers.

“The Seam has played a key role on the technology side of developing the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a program designed to confirm and increase awareness of the fact that U.S. cotton producers are farming responsibly and striving for continuous improvement,” said Ken Burton, the Trust Protocol’s executive director. “The Seam helped immensely in the development of the Trust Protocol, and the company continues to refine the way data is utilized within this industry-leading initiative.”

About the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol
The Trust Protocol, a collaborative effort of the U.S. cotton industry, is a new standard developed to foster a further awareness and reduction of U.S. cotton’s environmental footprint by enabling producers to assess their performance against specific sustainability goals. The Trust Protocol is governed by a multi-stakeholder board comprised of producers, ginners, merchandisers, cooperatives, textile manufacturers, retailers, conservation and civil society organizations, technical and agronomic scientists. For more information, including how to enroll, visit TrustUSCotton.org.

About The Seam
Based in Memphis, Tennessee, The Seam was founded by leading global agribusiness companies and specializes in commodity trading and agriculture software solutions. In December 2000, it began operating the world’s first online exchange for cotton trading. Since that time, the company has leveraged its trading and agriculture technology expertise to expand software services into other crops, including peanuts, soybeans, grains and dairy. As a proven leader in agtech, The Seam has cleared or processed more than $9 billion through its platforms. For more information, visit www.theseam.com.

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AgTech Company News

The Seam Sponsors GiveCamp Memphis

GiveCamp Memphis/Design for Good is a weekend-long event where professionals from designers, developers and database administrators to marketers and web strategists donate their time to provide solutions for nonprofit organizations. Since its inception in 2007, the national GiveCamp program has provided benefits to hundreds of nonprofits, worth millions of dollars of developer and designer time in services.

“After you and The Seam hosted our first-ever community outreach event in November, this was the biggest GiveCamp Memphis we’ve ever had, by far,” said GiveCamp Memphis organizer Lance Hilliard. “We’re on track to continue our growth toward our 2021 event! Additionally, Tammy’s talent for delivering details-aware results with a reliably kind and constructive disposition is nothing short of amazing. Her round-the-clock contributions this weekend enabled countless stakeholders to perform at their absolute best.”

The Seam was honored to sponsor such an incredible event for our city. And huge thanks to our own Tammy Sullivan, who spent the entire weekend serving and helping to make a difference in the lives of others!

GiveCamp Memphis | The Seam
Categories
AgTech Company News Cotton Sustainability

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Names Directors and Advisors

The inaugural Board of Directors and Advisors have been named for the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol (Trust Protocol), a new standard developed to help the U.S. cotton production sector further reduce its footprint by enabling producers to assess their performance against specific sustainability goals. Through robust data inputs, the Trust Protocol will add confidence throughout the supply chain – positioning U.S. cotton as the responsible choice for mills and retailers.

Directors representing the raw cotton industry include:

  • Producers – Matt Coley (Georgia); Ted Schneider (Louisiana); Shawn Holladay (Texas); and Aaron Barcellos (California); 
  • Ginner – David Blakemore (Missouri); 
  • Marketing Cooperative – Hank Reichle (Mississippi);
  • Merchant – Steve Dyer (Tennessee);
  • Cottonseed – Fred Serven (Tennessee);
  • Manufacturer – Jim Martin (North Carolina); 
  • Brands/Retailers are Liza Schillo, Levi Strauss & Co., and Joe Little, Tesco;
  • Suzy Friedman, Environmental Defense Fund; Melissa Ho, the World Wildlife Fund; Marty Matlock, the University of Arkansas; and Garry Bell, formerly with Gildan. 

Trust Protocol advisors include:  Jesse Daystar, Cotton Incorporated; Andy Jordan, Jordan Consulting; Marc Lewkowitz, Supima; Mark Pryor, The Seam; and Mike Quinn, Frontier Spinning Mills.

For more information, visit: http://www.cotton.org/news/releases/2019/trusbd.cfm

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Company News

Kristi Lofton: Back to her Roots

Kristi Lofton works in agricultural technologies. A graduate of Tech901’s Code 1.0 course, Kristi works as a software engineer for The Seam, a locally based software company focused on agricultural commodities trading and sustainability efforts. I’ll get back to the concept of “agricultural technologies” a little later on (it’s a big deal, I promise).

Until her current job at The Seam, Kristi’s issue wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy her job. She just felt like she could be doing more: “Everyone has to figure out their life,” she told me. “I was always interested in a lot of things- but not interested enough.”

You see, Kristi had mastered the pivot long before she made the shift from Vet Tech to IT. Kristi Lofton grew up in Hughes Arkansas, just 40 minutes outside of Memphis. She worked for her father during farming season, helping with the soy beans and wheat their family grew.  Her father and mother still own the farm to this day. 

I drove a tractor on my father’s farm growing up, and I always told myself that’s not what I want.

After graduating high school, Kristi left the farm for New York. She attended Colombia University, and majored in neuroscience. You know, no big deal. She followed her studies with a brief stint as an EMT, and by the time she had made her way back to Memphis, she had narrowed down her career choices to just two: vet school or pharmacy school.

That’s when her brother-in-law (a programmer) decided to throw her a curveball. “He was like, ‘listen- I know you’ve been getting ready for this pharmacy thing for a while, but I want you to try something new. I think you be good at it’.” He told her about the growing need for coders, and the local schools geared towards training them. Schools like Tech901.

I asked Kristi why she chose Tech901, and she was frank with me: “with Tech901, I could keep my job.” The clinic supported Kristi, moving her to the night shift so she could attend morning classes. Code 1.0 wasn’t easy- as Kristi puts it, “Code is 100% what you put in.” But Kristi likes a challenge.

The Seam met Kristi through a mock interview coordinated by Tech901’s career services, and they liked her right away. When the job offer came shortly after, Kristi found herself making another big decision: “Do I want to keep going down the path to grad school, or do I want to pursue this new path- this career in coding?” 

If you don’t feel complete, like you’re struggling or you’re not meeting your potential… try something else.

Kristi decided to take the tech leap.

When we met up recently, Kristi told me she hasn’t once questioned her decision. She’s flourished during her time with The Seam, thanks to her drive and the support of her coworkers. “When it comes to my team, I can’t overstate how helpful and approachable every member is. Having coworkers you can lean on if you’re having trouble is priceless.”

But what exactly does Kristi do?  What is Agricultural Tech (See? I told you we’d get back to it)? If you’re interested in web programming or code, you’ll want to pay attention to this next part.  

The Next Tech Frontier

Let me get right to it: agriculture is the next technological frontier: for Kristi, for Memphis, and for the global market.

Those fields of peanuts, cotton, and soybeans, along with the generations of farmers who cultivate them, have long been subject to traditional methods when it comes to production and exchange. 

Local relationships are important. Trust a handshake. Honesty matters.

But these traditions also include file drawers full of paper receipts and physical records, which means it’s sometimes difficult to follow a product from its origins to its end-user.

Cue Agricultural Technology, often shortened by in-field players to “AgTech”. AgTech is a growing field focused on addressing issues at every stage of the agricultural process using modern technologies. From seed and plant health to issues of transparency and sustainability: the goal of AgTech is to make agriculture more efficient, more sustainable, and more transparent.

Agricultural transparency issues in particular have historied roots (Egyptian cotton of dubious origins, suspect spices) and modern implications (the great romaine recall of 2018).

That’s where software engineers like Kristi have a part to play: in the records, trading, and sustainability efforts of modern agriculture. Famers are able to grow more efficient and sustainable crops using monitoring technologies. The advent of blockchain means we can track cotton from the field to the store you’ll eventually purchase that sassy t-shirt from. 

The AgTech Market is indeed booming- and more importantly, it’s making its home right here in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Memphis AgTech

Memphis in particular has been on top of the AgTech boom for the last few years. Uniquely situated in both farming and city spheres, Memphis is at an advantage when it comes to those businesses developing around global agriculture markets.

As businesses like The Seam continue to invest in Memphis, the demand for locals with tech training will continue to rise. They’ll need more coders, and more developers, willing to learn on the job. You know, people like Kristi. 

Kristi Lofton is particularly well suited to the local AgTech boom. Growing up, there was a lot of talk about inheriting the family farm- but Kristi knew that wasn’t what she wanted to do. But while Kristi left the farm, she hasn’t left agriculture entirely- in fact, she’s returned to it with her work at the Seam.

As of November 5th, Kristi will have been working at the Seam for one year. Kristi beams with engagement talking about her day to day work.

She loves her office, and her team.

She loves her job.

At The Seam, Kristi is responsible for maintaining web applications for cotton trading and peanut shelling. She also builds/ maintains the web applications for The Seam’s growing sustainability initiatives (a passion project of hers). “A day in my life consists of getting to my desk in the morning, looking at issues that have been assigned to me through our work portal, and working on solutions.” Some of these issues take her 30 minutes- some take weeks. For the tech nerds out there, she work mostly with SQL, .NET (C#), and Angular (Javascript/HTML/CSS).

She’s just coming off of peanut-shelling season (or for Kristi, troubleshooting season), which means she’s getting started on the next big project: cotton sustainability efforts in collaboration with the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol.

AgTech is a whole new frontier for Kristi- one she finds challenging, but also familiar. She’s had to learn a totally new way of thinking and problem solving. “I think my neuroscience background helped with that,” she laughs. “I mean, I majored in problem solving.”

But Kristi is also a Mid-Southerner. She grew up on the farm. She knows how farmers get work done. Now she can help them do more.

This post was adapted from an article in Tech901.

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Company News

Mark Pryor named to Technology Advisory Committee of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission

Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO at The Seam, was recently appointed to the Technology Advisory Committee of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. This role positions The Seam as a peer to high-level industry leaders and furthers the company’s mission to advance global innovation across all commodities.

See coverage in the Memphis Business Journal.

Categories
AgTech Company News Peanuts

The Seam Powers New Revolution of Peanuts Coming to the Delta

Delta Peanut selects The Seam Commodity Management Platform for U.S. operations

MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 18, 2019 – The Seam, a leading provider of trading and agribusiness software solutions, today announced that it will be working with Delta Peanut, LLC, a new peanut shelling operation based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and the first shelling facility to open in the area in more than 50 years. The company has entered into a multi-year agreement with The Seam and its peanut commodity management platform.

The Seam’s platform is designed with foundational technology such as document digitization, real-time data for decisioning and embedded integrations with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal-State Inspection Service, among others.

“Launched in 2016, our cloud-based platform has been transformational for participating shelling organizations, buying point businesses, manufacturers and peanut farmers,” said Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO at The Seam. “We are thrilled to have Delta Peanut join our expanding ecosystem. With a state-of-the-art shelling operation right in our backyard, there are immense opportunities to collaborate and innovate further.”

The platform delivers a digital hub for shelling organizations to interconnect with affiliate businesses and producers, providing the real-time status and value of stock, contracting, grading data integration and logistics management. Additionally, insight dashboards, position reporting, warehouse receipt management and system-guided workflows create streamlined processes, which result in more productive and cost-effective operations.

Delta Peanut has already planted the 2019 crop, with approximately 30,000 acres of peanuts in active production.  Three buying points will be operational to receive and store the crop. Components for the new shelling plant are currently under construction. Plant operations are targeted to commence in the first or second quarter of 2020.  In the interim, Delta Peanut will construct a warehouse, several drying sheds, and a shipping and distribution facility on the property in Jonesboro.

“The Seam is going to provide us with a solid technology foundation as we continue to build our infrastructure and plan for the future,” said Tommy Jumper, CEO at Delta Peanut. “There is a critical need for modern, integrated systems that provide transparency, interoperability and real-time data for decision-making. As we grow – adding buying points and possibly in-shell lines – it is comforting to know that The Seam’s extensible platform will grow with us.”


In the news:

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Company News

The Seam Expands, Appoints New Software Engineer

MEMPHIS, Tenn., December 20, 2018 – The Seam, a leading provider of agribusiness software and trading solutions, today announced the appointment of Kristi Lofton as Software Engineer. Lofton will report to Jason Sutton, Manager of Software Engineering, and Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO at The Seam.

Categories
Company News Sustainability

Event Recap: 2018 Sourcing USA Summit

Earlier this month, Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO at The Seam, presented at the 2018 Sourcing USA Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. More than 500 decision-makers within the global cotton industry gathered to hear about how blockchain technology is revolutionizing agriculture by providing transparency, security and immutability to commodity trading and management. The Summit was attended by the largest cotton customers in the world, representing 30 countries, merchants, cooperatives and agents in the industry.

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Company News

The Seam Expands, Appoints New Technical Analyst and Software Engineer

MEMPHIS, Tenn., November 2, 2018 – The Seam, a leading provider of agribusiness software and trading solutions, today announced the appointment of Kierston Hill as Technical Analyst and Willow A. Grant as Software Engineer. Both Hill and Grant report to Jason Sutton, Manager of Software Engineering.