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CAPITAL JOURNAL: SD Certified Beef program should figure out what it's promoting

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opinion Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

We learn from an Associated Press report that the South Dakota Certified Beef program, launched eight years ago with mighty fanfare during the Rounds administration, has fallen short of its goal of helping producers in the state sell state-branded beef as a premium product for higher prices.

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It appears that although South Dakota produces several million head of livestock, only 16,386 cattle over the past eight years have been enrolled in the program.

Maybe the program still will catch hold in time, as former Gov. Mike Rounds believes it will.

But it's also possible that the program may not be quite done yet; maybe we ought to flop it back on the grill.

We're told the current requirements of the program say that to qualify as South Dakota Certified Beef, cattle have to be born in the state, carry electronic ear tags and be tracked every time they are sold. So far so good. But what about the additional requirement that before they are slaughtered, cattle in the program must be fed a high-starch diet of corn or other grain for at least 100 days?

Has anybody over there in the state government complex heard of grass-fed beef? Supposed to be lower in fat? Higher in Omega 3 fatty acids? Coveted by urban types who still crave their red meat but want to feel good about health benefits?

Maybe South Dakota Certified Beef should start another tier of the program for South Dakota Certified Grass-fed Beef. After all, this program is promoting South Dakota beef, is it not? Or were we mistaken -- was it corn?

There are opportunities in beef production for the producer who does things differently, and it's too bad if the state won't help those who go against the grain. This state program should stop penalizing grass, one of the big wheels that drive our agricultural economy.

-Pierre Capital Journal

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