One step towards mandatory country of origin labeling on beef

Published: May. 22, 2020 at 6:30 PM CDT
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The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association has been working for a long time to try to get MCOOL, or Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, for beef products reinstated, after it was repealed in 2015.

Earlier this year, the Association along with State Senator Gary Cammack introduced an MCOOL resolution in the state legislature to ask the trade teams in Washington D.C. to re-negotiate trade agreements. James Halverson is the executive director of the Stockgrowers Association and is supportive of the labeling. He explains that the stock growers want the trade agreements to be re-negotiated because one argument against the country of origin labeling is the threat of tariff retaliation from countries such as Canada or Mexico. Halverson says Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota and a coalition of bi-partisan senators of other states liked this resolution and have taken it to the federal level.

"We understand it's not going to be a statute, it's not going to be put into law," says Halverson, "but it also would really help force the hand of the president to re-negotiate the trade deals so we could make it a law." Halverson also says, "We think it is a huge step forward in seeing some movements towards actually implementing country of origin labeling, and we really hope that we can keep moving this forward."

Senator Rounds states that "the reality is we need the president's attention on this issue and that's what we're focused on," adding that once signed by the president, the trade teams could bring MCOOL to the negotiation table.

There are some cattle growers who would like to see MCOOL become a bill sooner and have participated online petition to request such labeling written into a law.