A COOL state: South Dakota legislators introduce state country of origin labeling bill | TSLN.com

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A COOL state: South Dakota legislators introduce state country of origin labeling bill

South Dakota Senate Bill 135 seeks to implement country of origin labeling for beef across the state.

The national country of origin labeling law was repealed in 2015.

Senators Russell, Frehrichs, Heinert, Maher, Representatives Brunner, Lesmeister, Marty, May McCleery and Herman Otten co-sponsored the bill that has not yet been taken up in the Senate State Affairs Committee

Representative Elizabeth May said that as a rancher and the owner of her local grocery market, she strongly supports country of origin labeling. "I have a unique opportunity to see the product go from the pasture/market/to the table. My husband and I own and operate a cow/calf operation and also a grocery store. My customers like the country of origin label. Having a label not only gives customers confidence in the product, but gives them satisfaction knowing they're supporting American producer," said the Republican from Kyle, South Dakota.

Country of origin labeling is as important to her ranching family, including her husband and son, as it is to her meat-eating customers, she said, because it is a crucial policy piece that helps give the American producer the chance to stand on a more level playing field as he or she competes with cheaper meat from other countries.

May said she hopes to see more producers contact their legislators urging support for the bill. "I'm optimistically cautious of receiving the votes necessary to pass the bill, but the few producers who represent the industry have a duty to continue ringing the bell. They need to keep talking and educating other legislators on the impact to the industry."

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May represents Bennett, Haakon, Jackson, Pennington and Oglala Lakota counties.

The bill would make selling unlabeled meat a Class 2 misdemeanor.

–Staff Report