February 24, 2017

South Dakota Senate Committee Passes State Level Country Of Origin Labeling

thaj348e9xThe country of origin labeling debate is back, at least for South Dakota.  The State Senate Affairs Committee on Wednesday voted 5 to 3 in favor of a bill that would require a label detailing the origin of beef sold in South Dakota refrigerator cases.  The measure so far has support from both the South Dakota Farmers Union and the South Dakota Stock Growers Association, although a similar bill presented last session failed to make it through the full Senate vote.  Matt Sibley is the Legislative Director for the South Dakota Farmers Union.  He says he’s optimistic for final passage, although he realizes it won’t be easy:

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The bill, offically called SB 135, would require South Dakota retailers to present as much origination information as possible on the packaging.  Proponents of the bill don’t believe the requirement will impose an undue burden.  Silvia Christen, Executive Director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers says sellers of meat products can find the needed information on the boxes the meat comes in.  If they can’t find that information, the law would require them to mark the origination as “unknown”.  At this time, the bill only applies to beef, although Sibley says pork could be added later:

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Just like COOL was a national issue, not everyone supports the measure.  Representatives from the South Dakota Pork Producers, the South Dakota Retailers Association and the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association have all issued varying concerns.  Jodie Anderson, executive director of the SDCA says Country of Origin Labeling is a marketing issue.  He acknowledged consumers want to know where their product comes from, but he argued studies have shown it ultimately doesn’t drive their purchasing decision and theres no evidence that it will ultimately add anything to producers bottom lines.

 

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National Association of State Departments of Ag Remains Positive On NAFTA- AUDIO

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture recently held their policy conference in Washington D.C. The North American Free Trade Agreement was one topic of discussion as President Donald Trump will be pushing to renegotiate the agreement. NASDA Public Policy Director Nathan Bowen says NAFTA has been a big boost for American agriculture:

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Bowen says they want to make sure they keep the gains American agriculture has made under NAFTA but would also like to see it strengthened where possible. He says many sectors of agriculture have seen a direct benefit from the agreement:

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Bowen says there are some areas where NAFTA could be improved:

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He says a lot of trade barriers have come down thanks to what Bowen calls the “harmonization between our three countries.” The State Directors, Secretaries, and Commissioners of Agriculture have done a lot of work with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts to overcome any challenges when they’ve come up from time to time.

Although there is uncertainty among American trading partners, Bowen said the upcoming negotiations may represent an opportunity for improving the deal for Canada and Mexico as well:

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Bowen adds that several members of the Trump administration still need to be officially put in place yet, so discussions likely won’t start right away.

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Don’t Panic! USDA Economist Says We’re Unlikely To Run Out of Bacon

baconThere’s been a nasty rumor going around that U.S. Bacon supplies are about to run out.  USDA’s monthly cold storage report released in January showed an abnormally stockpile of the much sought cut.  But there’s no need to panic, says USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam:

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In fact, Shagam suggests that bacon lovers might be looking for a price break in the coming months:

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While total pork production is expected to increase, the industry is also looking forward to a large expansion in packing capacity with at least three new plants expected to come on line in 2017.

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