On Wednesday, May 13 a bipartisan coalition of senators introduced legislation urging the President and his team of U.S. trade negotiators to enter into agreements that would allow for the full implementation of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling of beef products. The South Dakota Stockgrowers fully appreciate the introduction of Senate Resolution 575 and would like to recognize the great leadership from our South Dakota Senators, Mike Rounds and John Thune in introducing and cosponsoring this important resolution.
“A resolution is where an issue begins to garner and gain widespread support,” Said SDSGA Executive Director James Halverson. “We understand this is a critical step forward towards fully implementing Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling. This is more traction than we’ve seen on this all-important issue than in many, many years”
This resolution is nearly identical to South Dakota’s SCR 601 that State Senator Gary Cammack sponsored this past winter in Pierre. SCR 601 went on to pass both chambers of the South Dakota Legislature with nearly unanimous support. “This is evidence of how an issue can grow from the grass-roots level,” Said SDSGA President Scott Edoff. “When we helped formulate this idea and craft this legislation on the state level, we wanted to attack the barriers to implementing MCOOL. We also were hoping to begin the snowball effect of MCOOL gaining attention and support nation-wide. We saw tremendous support from South Dakota lawmakers, and we are now beginning to see it at the federal level as well.”
Senator Rounds’ team recognizes this is an important issue for producers and consumers alike and getting an MCOOL bill attached to legislation that is quickly moving forward right now as part of the phase four relief package would not only force the issue, but would also be a win for both groups. “Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) for beef fits within our discussions on how to improve food security, transparency for consumers and supply chain issues, all of which have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening both producers and consumers,” said Rounds. “This is not only misleading to consumers when they purchase meat at the grocery store, it puts our producers at a competitive disadvantage when marketing their products. This legislation is the broadest and strongest bipartisan support we’ve seen for MCOOL since it was eliminated in 2015, and it begins the critical and necessary discussion on food security in America. This is a win-win for producers and consumers. MCOOL proponents – including those who represent consumers and cattle producers – who are sincerely interested in moving the ball forward on MCOOL should get behind our legislation and help force the issue. Our goal should be to gain support and include it in must-pass COVID-19 legislation, both of which will encourage the president’s action.”
“Senator Rounds and his team have been working with us nonstop to bring forth much legislation that will help livestock producers.” Said Halverson. “We greatly appreciate his team’s efforts in bringing attention to MCOOL and to get it in front of the President. When the President signs this legislation, he is basically saying he will renegotiate these trade deals so that we can fully implement MCOOL. Consumers want to know where their meat is being born, raised, and harvested and this is a giant step in the right direction. We’d like to publicly thank our both of our Senators for committing to support Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling and breaking down the barriers to getting it fully implemented.” He added.