Sen. John Thune speaks to SD Stock Growers Convention

Updated: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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SPEARFISH, S.D. (KOTA) - Senator John Thune was in the Black Hills Thursday to speak to the South Dakota Stock Growers Convention in Spearfish. He took the opportunity to speak directly to local cattle producers about renewed calls for appropriately labeling beef that’s made in the USA.

It’s been a whirlwind year for cattle producers in western South Dakota. Between the ongoing drought, and the COVID-19 pandemic, producers are still facing several challenges to get their product on Americans’ tables.

Thune said that he hopes more can be done to provide ranchers with feed for their cattle since the drought has lessened the amount of feed in this past year.

“We’ve been trying to come up with some solutions that would enable them to get access to forage there’s a lot of Conservation Reserve Program Acres in the state that, if we can get additional flexibility, they could make the feed available to livestock producers in the western part of the state.”

Thune said that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the inequalities between cattle producers and meatpackers, inequalities he hopes Congress can address.

“We saw these huge disparities between what the producer got when they sold a cow on the hoof, and what the packers were receiving in terms of the margin there,” Thune said. “, So, they were passing on price increases to the consumer at the supermarket, but the producer wasn’t seeing that.”

Thune… and South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds, along with Democrats Jon Tester and Cory Booker, announced the American Beef Labeling Act that would reinstate mandatory country of origin labeling for beef.

Thune said that he’ll push hard for this legislation to pass, and for the Department of Justice to continue its investigation into market disparities.

“With the input of these agencies, who are supposed to know how to write these things in a way that withstands legal challenges at the World Trade Organization that will get a piece of legislation that can get this across the finish line once and for all,” Thune said.

The current labeling system allows for beef raised overseas, but processed in the United States to be labeled ‘Made in the U.S.A.’

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