Agriculture community gathers in Deadwood

DEADWOOD, S.D. — The Rancher’s Cattleman Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) convention saw record numbers this week as members of the ranching and farming industries look for a way to escape their recent struggles.

R-CALF is working to convince lawmakers and President Donald Trump of the importance of proper labeling on beef and pork.

In 2015, Congress repealed COOL, or Country of Origin Labeling, which required beef and pork born, raised and processed in the United States to be labeled as such. Without enforcement of the labeling, cheaper meat imported from other countries is being labeled as American born and bred.

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard says that this has hurt the agriculture community where it hurts the most.

“If we do not have a strong, vibrant US cattle industry, we lose the economic cornerstones of our rural communities, and we witness the hollowing out of those rural communities, as we have for the past several decades.”

R-CALF filed a lawsuit for the misleading labels, but the statute of limitations expired. While the case cannot be opened, the group is asking President Trump to include COOL in the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“We worked so hard to get this law passed and in 2015 we were finally seeing some record prices for our calves and our products,” said Kyle Hemmert, VP of R-CALF. “They have collapsed the prices in a manipulation way, so we’ve lost 50 per cent, basically, almost 50 per cent of the record prices from 2015.”

As a result of international processing, many ranchers and farmers have lost half of their income or have been put out of business.

R-CALF USA is now filing a new lawsuit against four meatpackers, claiming they engaged in antitrust practices.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News