House Committee Considers COOL Legislation

House Committee Considers COOL Legislation

 

SD Stockgrowers Association testified in support of House Bill 1228 in front of South Dakota’s House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. The bill would have created a requirement that grocery stores within the State of South Dakota label beef as to its country of origin if the information is available to them.

According to Bill Kluck, President of the SD Stockgrowers, “Our association has been strong supporters of COOL and feel that a customer really should be able to determine where their food is coming from. We have these labels on most of our other products, and we think a customer should have the same information on their beef.”

In testimony offered during Tuesday’s hearing, Silvia Christen, Executive Director of the SD Stockgrowers Association said, “This bill is makes sure that any information that our grocery stores do have about the origin of the beef in their stores is passed on to the customers.

HB 1228 would have required that grocery stores and other retail outlets of beef provide labels on beef. Labels would have had to display any information that the retailer had about the country of origin of the beef on their shelves, or state clearly that they were unable to determine any country of origin. That information is no longer required under federal Country of Origin Labeling programs since the beef and pork provisions were repealed in late 2015.

Representative Paula Hawks introduced HB 1228 by saying, “As a mother who wants to know what I am feeding my family, I want to be able to track where the food I feed them is coming from.  Growing up on a family farm taught me to take pride in the product of our labors. I want to continue to bring to my table food that I know the origin of.”

David Niemi, a rancher from Harding County testified saying, “I do feed a few head of cattle that I deliver to lockers in the Black Hills and that is marketed within the Black Hills area. This bill would be a benefit for consumers who are buying my beef but also for producers like myself.”

According to Christen’s testimony, “studies have shown that 90% of consumers support the labeling of meat products. We know that consumers want more information about where their food is from. They want more information about where it’s produced and how it’s produced.  We feel that HB1228 is a way for South Dakota to provide our consumers with the best information available. “The conversation of consumers wanting more information about food is not going away and HB1228 is a way for South Dakota to be a leader in this area.”

The bill narrowly failed to pass out of the House Agriculture and Natural Resource committee with a vote of 6 to 7.  Along with SD Stockgrowers Association, Senator Jason Frerichs, SD Farmers Union and Dakota Rural Action also spoke in support of the bill. Opponents to HB1228 included SD Farm Bureau, SD Cattlemen’s Association, SD Pork Producers, SD Retailers Association, SD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the SD Department of Agriculture.

Language of HB1228, recording of the hearing and details of the votes can be found at http://legis.sd.gov/Legislative_Session/Bills/Bill.aspx?Session=2016&Bill=1228