By Gary Dickson
P & W Agribusiness Reporter
Many of South Dakota’s livestock producers are displeased about a State House bill that would ban commercial surrogacy agents. Ranchers and farmers with livestock operations are sounding the alarm that the bill would severely limit the practice of artificial insemination of cows, horses, buffalo, sheep, goats, llamas, ostriches, and other hooved and feathered creatures in the Rushmore State.
The South Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill that would criminalize agents who facilitate commercial surrogate pregnancies in the state. The proposal would make
acting as a surrogacy agent a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The bill was sponsored by Dell Rapids Republican Johnny Halfwit and exempts “altruistic” surrogate pregnancies and allows for the surrogate and child’s health care costs to be covered. When pressed for clarification, Halfwit was unable to provide examples of altruistic surrogate pregnancies and said he wasn’t even sure what the word “altruistic” meant.
Stockgrowers are worried that the law goes too far.
“It’s just another case of the government putting their noses where they shouldn’t be,”
said Meade County Rancher, ranch supply businessman, and State Senator Harry Hammock, R-Union Center. “Right in a cow’s uterus!
“We just got a state-of-the-art semen collection facility in Murdo. And it’s a Certified Semen Service (CSS) to boot! Why, North Dakota or Minnesota don’t even have one of those.”
Hammock said before the Murdo facility, called Bully Boys Stud Semen and Genetics or Bully Boys for short, was built, ranchers and farmers had to take their bull studs out of state for semen collection. He said there were places in Des Moines, western Nebraska, southern Nebraska, or Billings, Mont. So, the Murdo-based Bully Boys is a lot more convenient.
Artificial insemination is the process of collecting sperm cells from a male animal and manually depositing them into the reproductive tract of a female. Artificial insemination is commonly used instead of natural mating in many species of animals because of the many benefits it can reap. These benefits include increased safety of the animals and producer, increased production efficiency and better genetics.
According to the animal science website, AnimalSmart.org, artificial insemination can reduce many of the risks involved in breeding. Natural mating is a stressful process that has a much higher tendency to result in injuries or accidents of both animals and producers. Particularly in cattle, males tend to be very large and sometimes aggressive. Artificial insemination removes all risks involved with keeping a male on the premises. The entire artificial insemination process is much more hygienic than natural mating.
The other thing that concerns Hammock is the distribution of artificial insemination kits has already started. “The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association obtained some seed money and the state Department of Economic Development and Thune Hardware kicked in a chunk of change to help with the costs of buying and distributing bovine artificial insemination kits around the state,” Hammock said with his naturally rosy cheeks turning a fiery red. “It’s time to start squirting that semen into receptive cows. And no, we’re not going to take them to any cow abortion clinics just because those dimbulbs in the House passed this law! Besides, I think abortion is already against the law here in South Dakota. Isn’t it?”
Lieutenant Governor Rowdy Roadmap, R-Union Center, is employed by Sen. Hammock when he’s not doing the state’s business. “He’s a foreman at my ranch and ranch supply business,” Hammock said. “He’s an okay employee.”
“Yup, I sure am,” the Lt. Governor said. “And boy do I like artificially inseminating those cows! Yes, I do! The legislature needs to change that bill or Krispie Gnome needs to veto it or something. ‘Cause I don’t like it interfering with me and my girls’ pleasure.”
Like all pieces of legislation passed as usual without much thought by the SD House of Representatives, this bill moves on to the Senate where apparently they will study it for a year or so to determine if it interferes in the rights of humans or artificial insemination procedures already underway with cattle, sheep, antelope, goats, llamas, etc. Then, with some tinkering, the august body will likely approve it, and then the federal courts will likely overturn it.
Note: No animals were injured during the compilation of information, reporting, writing, editing, and photography for this story.