WLSB discusses livestock market challenges
Lander – At the early May meeting of the Joint Ag Committee in Lander, Wyoming State Veterinarian participated in Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) reports to the legislators, which included a discussion on livestock auction market rules.
“The WLSB regulates livestock auction markets, and in statute they’re required to renew their livestock auction market licenses prior to May 1 of every year,” said Logan. “Almost all are somewhat tardy, with one exception.”
Logan said the agency is taking steps, and that the markets have received reminders going back almost two months. Renewals entail a fee of $100 per year, and proof of bonding.
“We’ve still got at least one market that hasn’t renewed, and one that sent in something yesterday, but with no payment,” he said, mentioning that the committee may want to take a look at the renewal rules.
WLSB Director Leanne Stevenson said the fee is $100, regardless of whether a market operates year round or has a special sale once a year, and that the agency is considering changing that, as well as the bonding requirement, which is only $25,000.
“In this day and age, with the price of livestock, is that bond too nominal?” she asked.
Logan said another concern for livestock markets in the state is access to market vets.
“The markets have to have an approved market vet to do accredited vet work, as far as writing export certificates and looking at all the animals that come in to ensure health,” he said. “It’s becoming more difficult for our markets to find large food animal veterinarians who are willing to assume the market role. Some don’t want to put up with market managers and buyers, and the other part is it is a demanding job that takes a lot of hours and has a lot of stress related to it. With the decreasing numbers and attrition with people getting out of the practice, there aren’t that many younger vets coming on to assume the role. I don’t have a good solution for it, but we will have to address it.”
Logan mentioned the Torrington Livestock Auction as “having a very difficult time,” and the WLSB has allowed an extension for them to find an approved vet. “There are three people working with them, but none are interested in doing it long-term,” he said.
Logan said that in South Dakota the veterinarians who work at auction markets are employed by the South Dakota state veterinarian on the days they do market work.
Currently, market veterinarians who work for sale barns receive compensation for the health certificates they write, or on a per-animal charge based on the services provided.
“They don’t have full-time employees, but on market days they work directly for the South Dakota State Vet and are paid by the state,” he noted. “Perhaps that is something that Wyoming may need to look at to ensure we’ve got coverage at the markets, because it is a huge marketing issue. If we don’t have vets at the markets to assure we’ve got health and export requirements covered, there will be a big impact on the ability to utilize export markets.”
Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.