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Thune, Rounds, push 'origin label' in Farm Bill

Charles Michael Ray

South Dakota’s congressional delegation wants to restore mandatory country of origin labelling through the next Farm Bill.

South Dakota Republican U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune have already introduced a bi-partisan bill in the Senate to reinstate the labelling.

The bill has been in a Senate committee since last September, however, the Farm Bill might be a vehicle to get it done.

Thune is in South Dakota holding talks with farmers and ranchers about the upcoming farm bill. He said ranchers want to see several programs this round.

“They’re interested in the concentration of packers in the packing industry and what we can do to address that to create a more competitive market when they market their cattle,” Thune said. “So we’re looking at solutions there. Then, I would say there are programs in place—what I would call a livestock risk protection program, which is an insurance product that livestock producers can buy that insures them against price losses and that sort of thing—they want to make sure that’s working.”

Thune said the top priority is country-of-origin-labelling, which looks like a ‘product of the USA’ sticker on packages of beef

In 2012, the World Trade Organization announced the United States’ country-of-origin-labelling unfairly discriminated against foreign meat suppliers like Mexico and Canada.

Lawmakers have tried to re-implement the program ever since.

Thune and Rounds’ bill requires U.S. trade representatives to develop a World Trade Organization-compliant means to reinstate the label.

The last farm bill was passed in 2018. Sen. Thune sits on the committee that crafts Farm Bill, which comes up for renewal every four years.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.