PIERRE, S.D. – A bill that would require country of origin labels on beef is headed to the Senate floor of the South Dakota legislature. The bill, SB 135, passed out of the state Senate Agriculture and National Resources Committee on Feb. 15 after a 5-to-3 vote in favor of the legislation.

SB 135 states that all beef and ground beef sold for retail within the state must bear a country of origin label. Additionally, the legislation states that “… Any beef or ground beef verified as originating in the United States shall bear a placard declaring it to be a product of the United States of America. Any beef or ground beef determined to be of imported or mixed origin shall bear a placard declaring the country or countries of origin. If the origin of any beef or ground beef cannot be determined, the product shall bear a placard that denotes the origin as, unknown, or as, country of origin unknown.”

The labels must not obscure any labeling required by the federal government. A symbol or flag cannot be used to denote country of origin. The bill excludes prepared foods for immediate sale and ready-to-eat foods.

The legislation concludes: “Any person engaged in the business of retail vending of beef and ground beef who knowingly or purposely offers beef or ground beef for sale without ensuring the products are clearly labeled with a placard denoting the country of origin pursuant to section 3 of this Act is guilty of a petty offense.”

Other state legislatures are considering country of origin labels for meat products. Legislators in Wyoming recently introduced HB 198 which requires retailers and wholesalers who sell beef or offer beef for sale in Wyoming to clearly label the meat produced in the US as a product of the United States of America.