Brand inspector’s dismissal angers Kaycee area ranchers
Gillette — Kaycee ranchers and video auction representatives say a recent Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) decision to dismiss the brand inspector in their community has the potential to cost them money.
Kaycee rancher Mike Lohse said the agency is establishing a history of increasing fees and cutting services. He said if ranchers are waiting on a brand inspector before they can load the trucks and send the cattle on to the scales they’re losing money as their cattle stand and shrink. “I know you’re trying to cut your budget, but you’re cutting my budget,” said Lohse.
“The people at Kaycee are finding this hard to swallow,” said Superior Livestock Auction Representative Tony Schiffer. “There are five full-time inspectors between Douglas and Casper. Now in Johnson County we have one and in Sheridan County we have one. I don’t know who is going to pick up the slack.” Schiffer said it would have been wiser for the agency to dismiss a newer hire rather than a 26-year veteran of the agency.
“How are you going to fill the void?” asked Superior Livestock Auction Representative Ray Mader. “The part time guy in that area worked every day the full time guy did last year.” Ranchers also pointed out the part time inspector’s schedule is limited by his second job driving school bus. They questioned the logic in paying mileage for an inspector to travel to the Kaycee area from Casper.
Wyoming Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa said inspectors would be shifted from other areas. At the meeting’s end he and Wyoming Livestock Board Director Jim Schwartz committed to ensuring an inspector’s presence if producers provide a two-week lead-time in requesting inspectors.
As it stands, Lohse said two weeks hasn’t historically been enough time to get an inspector on shipping day. He said the brand inspector is one of the first people he calls to avoid having to move his shipping date.
Romsa said the decision was made based on inspection numbers, form numbers and the presence of part time inspectors in the area. The agency also directed the cuts toward districts that hadn’t made cuts in earlier staffing reductions. In addition to the brand inspector at Kaycee, an inspector in Uinta County was let go.
The cuts were part of a directive from the Governor’s office to cut state agency budgets by 10 percent. Romsa said the agency’s original proposal, which called for cuts in programs, not people, was rejected by the Governor’s office. “We were told specifically to take $105,000 in cuts in the brand inspection program,” said Romsa. “We really only spend money on salary, benefits and mileage.”
Asked if they have room to reconsider their decision on the dismissal, Schwartz responded, “The letters have really been delivered. We’ve already submitted the plan to the Governor. I don’t think we have that latitude at this point in time.”
Lohse said, “The last time there was a plan to eliminate an inspector under this same supervisor, people got mad just like they are now and he was re-hired.”
Rancher Frank Shepperson said that future inspector reviews need to include a conversation with producers who utilize the inspector’s services.
The brand inspector discussion took place during the early June Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Gillette. The Wyoming Livestock Board has scheduled a teleconference for June 16 with brand inspection among the topics to be discussed. Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.