It will be very interesting to see what the market is for this "service". From the Modesto Bee comes news that South Dakota's governor has signed into a law a bill creating a program for tracking beef from from birth to retail store. Why? Some choice quotes [yes, pun intended]:
Consumers will be able to find out where the beef they buy came from, even the ranch where a calf was born, under a new measure signed into law Tuesday by South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and aimed at raising cattle prices for the state's farmers and ranchers.
The South Dakota Certified Beef Program allows consumers to visit an Internet site and use a code on the meat label to track the animal from birth, through a feedlot and to a meatpacking plant.
"We believe consumers will step forward and they will be paying premium prices for this premium product," Rounds said Tuesday. ....
Various organizations have promoted high-quality beef, but South Dakota officials said the program marks the first time a government has put its seal of approval on beef products. [Emphasis mine]
Uh, I guess those "South Dakota officials" mean a state gov, as the feds already "inspect" meat that gets the USDA label.
Now, are people really so scared about mad cow disease that there's a demand for this? Maybe in other countries, but I'm not seeing it here. Then again, most of the company I keep is of the sensible sort, and not too susceptible to the scare-mongering going on. More importantly, does anyone know of any govocrat program that has higher standards -- and actually enforces them -- than a comparable private organization?
More details on the program from the Bee article:
"We're going beyond country of origin labeling here. We're going right down to the producer who raised that calf," Rounds said.
Cattle in the program would have to be raised, fed and slaughtered in South Dakota. Farmers, ranchers and processors who join the program would have to follow state standards in raising and slaughtering cattle. All cattle in the program would carry electronic ID tags.
Rounds also signed into law a second measure that allows the state to start an identification program that will work in conjunction with the South Dakota Certified Beef program and also be used to help stop the spread of livestock diseases.
Farmers and ranchers who voluntarily enroll in the Certified Beef program would have to pay licensing fees, which would be used to finance marketing and monitoring of the livestock.
Notice that it's casually dropped in that the cattle will have "electronic ID tags". They'll almost certainly be RFID-chipped, but as that acronym has become a lightning rod, it's being avoided in more and more circles. There's some evidence, which I haven't researched at all and so can't weigh in on, that these chips bring their own health risks to animals implanted with them.
Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out. I predict that's going to be a hefty price jump in order to pay for the costs of this program. I wonder if the ranchers who sign up will actually see increased profit as a result. And I wonder what'll happen to the program the first time someone gets a case of food poisoning and decides to sue everyone in that trackable chain ...