The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots organization whose individual producer members determine issues of importance to the state's livestock industry. With input into the policy development, each member has the opportunity to influence SDSGA's policy and priorities. Individual members of the Association pull together to make powerful decisions - dedicated to promoting the livestock industry and enhancing the opportunity for profitability.

SD Stockgrowers News

SD Stockgrowers Thank Noem for Vote on Endangered Species Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4315 this week with support from Representative Kristi Noem, R-SD.  H.R. 4315, the Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act combines four bills that were previously considered by the House Natural Resources Committee to update and modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA), originally passed in 1973 and not updated since 1988.

“We thank Representative Noem for her support of this bill,” said Bob Fortune, President of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Assoc. from Belvidere.  “The Endangered Species Act affects many ranch families who are managing natural resources on their grazing lands in order to provide habitat for these species and its time that we update and modernize this legislation to reflect current science in resource management and processes for keeping the public informed about changes to ESA listings.”

According to the Public Lands Council, H.R. 4315 would require data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions (including proposed listings) to be made publicly available and accessible through the Internet, allowing the public to see the information that is being used.  And, the government would be required to disclose scientific and commercial data regarding listings to all states affected by a species listing.  Affected tribes, state, and local governments would also be included in the data collection process for these decisions.

The bill would also require the Interior Secretary to report and comprehensively track ESA litigation costs, including attorneys’ fees, and post it on the internet, and it caps hourly fees paid to attorneys that prevail in cases filed under ESA.  This will make the ESA consistent with current law under the Equal Access to Justice Act. Currently, no cap on attorney fees exists under the ESA allowing attorneys to be awarded massive sums of taxpayer money.

Cattle Groups Pleased With Appeal Court’s Affirmation of COOL 

Today, eleven judges at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Appeals Court)  denied the request by the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and other meatpacker lobby groups for an injunction that would have halted enforcement of the U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law.

While the decision to uphold the denial of the meatpacker-requested preliminary injunction was unanimous, the Appeals Court ruled 8 to 3 to reinstate the specific judgment by the original three-judge panel of the Appeals Court that decided in March that COOL did not violate the meatpacker lobby groups’ First Amendment free speech protections. The specific First Amendment question resolved by today’s ruling was whether the original panel had used the proper standard for determining when the Constitution allows compelled commercial speech.

“This ruling reinforces our long-held belief that COOL is fully compliant with our U.S. Constitution and our congressionally-passed COOL law,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

R-CALF USA, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Food & Water Watch, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils are intervenors in the original lawsuit filed against COOL by the meatpacker lobby and they jointly filed a friend of the court brief (amicus curie brief) with the appeals court in support of COOL.

The appeals court flatly rejected the meatpacker lobby’s assertion that the only purpose for COOL was to satisfy consumers’ ‘idle curiosity.” To the contrary, it found that COOL information “has an historical pedigree” and listed many other statutes that require COOL information on various products including the Tariff Acts of 1890 and 1930, the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, and the American Automobile Labeling Act.

In addition, the Appeals Court referenced statements by congressional members indicating that COOL served a food safety interest by enabling consumers to make purchasing decisions based on such factors as United States’ supervision of the entire production process for health and hygiene and by containing the market impact of a disease outbreak which COOL can do by enabling consumers to avoid products from countries where an outbreak may occur.

In his concurring opinion, Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh found that the government has a substantial interest in providing COOL information and stated that COOL “isjustified by the Government’s historically rooted interest in supporting American manufacturers, farmers, and ranchers as they compete with foreign manufacturers, farmers, and ranchers.”
Kavanaugh further opined that this substantial interest in COOL is obvious, even if the USDA did not articulate it during the litigation. He stated it was likely that USDA did not expressly articulate its “clear interest in supporting American farmers and ranchers in order to justify this law, apparently because of the international repercussions that might ensue.”

“We are pleased with this strong COOL decision and equally pleased that consumers will continue to be able to choose to purchase beef that is exclusively born, raised and slaughtered in the United States,” said South Dakota Stockgrowers Association’s President Bob Fortune.