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South Dakota Establishes First State-Certified Beef Program

PIERRE, S.D. -- In a move that should help his state's farmers and ranchers get higher prices for their livestock, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds has signed a law to put a state seal of approval on quality meat from cattle raised in the state, creating the country's first state-certified beef program.

The South Dakota Certified Beef Program designation will be issued to meat exclusively from cattle that are tracked electronically and raised according to program standards. Certified cattle in the program would be butchered by packing plants in South Dakota and would thus qualify for the state's new official seal that would carry a trademark featuring an image of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Farmers and ranchers who voluntarily enroll in the program would have to pay licensing fees to the state, which would use the money to finance the effort.

Using an Internet site and a label code, consumers who purchase beef stamped with the South Dakota Certified Beef Program seal will be able to trace a product back to the source animal's ranch of birth, through the feedlot and to the meatpacking plant. "We're going beyond country of origin labeling here," said Rounds. "We're going right down to the producer who raised the calf."

Rounds also signed into law a second measure that allows the state to start an identification program that works in conjunction with the certified beef program and is designed to help stop the spread of livestock diseases.

Some 850 farmers and ranchers already have expressed interest, according to State Agriculture Secretary Larry Gabriel.
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