PIERRE | To keep a trademark alive, state lawmakers sent a beef bill to the political slaughterhouse Thursday.

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee decided against repealing the South Dakota Certified Beef program.

Rep. Dan Ahlers, D-Dell Rapids, asked lawmakers to save it. That turned some heads on the committee because he had sponsored the repealer. His argument didn’t change.

“It’s really been an underfunded, underutilized program,” Ahlers said.

But after he introduced HB 1089, members of livestock groups suggested he wait. He said the hope is to find a way to protect the registered trademark.

“It’s been dormant for a while,” acknowledged Jeremiah M. Murphy, a Rapid City lobbyist for the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.

He said some members worried the trademark would be lost and want to look for “some creative ideas” before next year.

“It’s really that simple,” Murphy said.

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Brenda Forman, a Pierre lobbyist for the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, said much the same. Cattlemen “truly appreciate” Ahlers “bringing it to the forefront,” Forman said. She added they look forward to working on it.

The Legislature created the certified-beef program in 2005 at the request of then-Gov. Mike Rounds and his cabinet secretary for agriculture, Larry Gabriel. But for a variety of reasons, the initiative never really got running.

Last year legislators on the Joint Committee on Appropriations, in their search for any extra money, swept $100,000 from the program’s account. That left about $565.

Ahlers plans to work with the agriculture community over the summer.

“We don’t want to rush this,” he said.

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