S.D. livestock groups call on Rep. Noem to defend COOL
February 5, 2014
South Dakota livestock organizations sent a letter today to Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., urging her continued support of County-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) and asked for her help in defending COOL during the Farm Bill committee process. South Dakota Farmers Union, S.D. Stockgrowers, S.D. Sheepgrowers, S.D. Livestock Marketing Assoc, and Dakota Rural Action were joined by over twenty individual livestock auction markets in support of COOL.
The letter begins by thanking Noem for her vocal support of COOL during the May 2013 Farm Bill hearing and asked Noem to continue her support of COOL "through voting, speaking and working for the protection of the program during the conference committee process and during any public hearing."
"We feel fortunate to have Rep Noem in such a prominent position during the Farm Bill discussions," said Bob Fortune, President of S.D. Stockgrowers Assoc. "We are counting on her leadership to defend against attacks that would repeal or weaken COOL and limit the information that our customers have about their food."
COOL was first enacted in the 2000 Farm Bill and the United States Department of Agriculture implemented the final rules for COOL on Dec. 11, 2013 that provide customers with information about where their meat was born, raised and harvested. Strong opposition from the packing industry and Canada are threatening attempts to repeal the program.
"We are proud of the high quality meat raised here in the United States and we want customers to have a choice about the food they're putting on the dinner table," said Max Matthews, President of the S.D. Sheepgrowers.
"Consumers and producers in South Dakota have already started benefiting from the full implementation of COOL," said S.D. Farmers Union President Doug Sombke. "Consumers can now select USA raised meat in every store across the country, but that right is not yet guaranteed. Representative Noem's leadership on COOL during the farm bill conference will be essential to keeping COOL in place for producers and consumers alike."
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While most conflicts between the Senate and House versions of the farm bill have been reconciled behind closed doors, COOL is one issue that would be heard if there is a final conference committee hearing.
"Our farmers and ranchers need COOL now more than ever before," said Sombke. "One of the best ways in which we can support our family farms and ranches is by purchasing American meat and COOL will ensure that customers can have that choice."
Organizations signing the letter include:
South Dakota Stockgrowers Association
South Dakota Farmers Union
South Dakota Sheep Growers Association
South Dakota Livestock Auction Market Association
Dakota Rural Action
Martin Livestock Auction
Sioux Falls Regional Livestock
Hub City Livestock Sales
Magness Livestock Market
Bales Continental Commission
Belle Fourche Livestock
Glacial Lakes Livestock
Ft. Pierre Livestock Auction
Faith Livestock Commission
St. Onge Livestock
Chamberlain Livestock F
–S.D. Stockgrowers Ass'n