G-Form meeting draws a crowd, prompts discussion
Lusk — Around 60 people attended a meeting in Lusk on June 1 to discuss the idea of hauling cattle from Wyoming to the Crawford Livestock Auction in Crawford, Neb. on a G-Form. Members of the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) were in attendance to hear what producers had to say.
“We have received over 200 letters addressing going to Crawford on a G-Form,” explained WLSB Executive Director Jim Schwartz on the purpose of the meeting. “Our goal is to have an effective, stable brand program and do things to benefit the industry. We’re here to listen.”
Crawford Livestock Auction owner Jack Hunter provided information to attendees on how many head he sells annually from Wyoming.
“We average around 5,000 head, and most come out of Weston and Niobrara counties. I would say I don’t get over five consigners bringing over 500 head, and it’s probably more accurate to say under five consigners bring over 100 head. Most of them are weigh-up cows.”
“With a 75-cent G-Form, that takes about $3,750 dollars away from the WLSB. But, how much does it cost for an inspector to drive way out in the country to inspect a couple cows?” asked Hunter.
WLSB Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa explained a reciprocal agreement is currently in place with South Dakota and has been working well for decades.
“Sixty-seven thousand head of Wyoming cattle went to St. Onge and Belle Fourche last year. There were over 1,700 shipments (G-Forms) on those 67,000 head. South Dakota collects the Beef Checkoff dollars and their beef council refunds them to Wyoming. That happens regardless of where cattle are sold outside the state,” explained Romsa.
District Two Brand Supervisor Joe Hunter voiced concern regarding having out of state brand inspectors looking at Wyoming cattle. “I feel Wyoming cattle should be looked at by Wyoming inspectors,” he said.
Lusk Brand Inspector Dick Baker added his biggest concern is stray cattle. “The farther a cow gets from home, the harder it is to find her. Without a brand inspection it becomes more difficult to get her back home, and that’s my biggest concern,” he said.
Schwartz added the WLSB is concerned that opening Crawford would lead to interest in using G-Forms to sell at additional markets in bordering states. “That would financially hurt our program if we did open all those up,” he added.
“When you’re letting part of Wyoming go into the South Dakota markets and you’re holding me back and charging me 75 cents more to go to Crawford, I don’t like it. We have the brand inspector out after we’ve already worked our calves and choused them around, so we have to do it again. Then we do it one more time at the sale barn. We are losing weight there and it is discriminatory to allow cattle to South Dakota on a G-Form but not to Crawford,” stated area producer Pat Miller during public comment.
“I’m willing to pay more for a G-Form for the added convenience. Lots of folks who live at the end of the road and have a day they can take three cull cows to the market find it inconvenient to get a brand inspection. In my mind it’s worth it to pay more for the G-Form and be able to Crawford if I want to. What about allowing a G-Form on 20 head or less and requiring a full inspection on everything else?” asked Warren Broyles.
“There has been a 33.5 percent drop in the brand board’s budget since 2000. Wherever people go, I hope their cattle top the market, but I would like to see the money stay in Wyoming and support our state. If we do this what will it do to the economic flow?” asked Torrington Livestock Auction owner Lex Madden.
“We’ve sold cattle at Belle and St Onge for years and those brand inspectors are as qualified as Wyoming’s. I’ve never had any problems; you guys all go to the same school, so I don’t see the quality of brand inspectors as an issue. Why not send a Wyoming inspector to Crawford on sale day, doesn’t that solve all the problems?” asked area producer Tom Hamilton.
Romsa explained reciprocal agreements can be made when it’s economically feasible, which it clearly is between Wyoming and the two South Dakota markets. “It might be discriminatory, but that doesn’t make it economical to allow a G-Form to go Crawford,” he added.
In the June 2 WLSB meeting the G-Form issue was presented to the Board. “Adding another one of these is just stirring up trouble. That thing in Nebraska isn’t going to be good. I don’t like the idea, but I don’t want to penalize our producers either,” stated WLSB chairman Rob Orchard.
“I don’t want to extend this to another sale barn. If I had it my way I would take it away from South Dakota if I didn’t think I would get skinned,” stated Board member Albert Sommers.
“We’ve used the G-Form almost exclusively to go into South Dakota,” said northeast Wyoming producer Perry Livingston. “I think it pays you back well, and I would hope that whatever you decide that you leave the two South Dakota markets alone. I feel it serves Crook, Weston and parts of other counties very well. Whatever you choose to do, I hope you look long and hard at leaving those two markets on the G-Form.”
Board vice president Eric Barlow suggested it was premature to not consider the issue until Chapter 11 rules concerning G-Forms are addressed. Ultimately the Board decided to stall the issue until the purpose of the G-Form is defined with more clarity and the Chapter 11 rules are looked at.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.