Kermit Brown: Former Wyoming representative continues to support ag community
Former Wyoming Speaker of the House and 2005-2017 Rep. Kermit Brown continues to advocate for the ranching community.
“In the old days, I was a young cowboy, pilot and flight instructor,” he shares. “I went to the University of Wyoming (UW) and received two degrees, one in animal husbandry and another in business administration. After I graduated, I left and joined the Navy for four years.”
After the Navy, Kermit received his Juris Doctor from UW College of Law in 1973.
Today his focus is in business, agriculture law and estate planning at Brown & Hiser LLC in Laramie. He has always had a passion for ranching and the Western way of life and notes the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) has been an influential association in the state of Wyoming.
WSGA is the voice of ag
“WSGA is really important because it’s the voice of agriculture,” he says. “When I was in the legislature, I always paid particular attention to the association.”
WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna has played an influential role in WSGA and is an exceptional individual, Kermit adds.
“He always made a lot of sense to me on ag issues, and I was always interested in ag issues,” he shares. “I’ve always supported the ag community and was one of the sponsors of the original bill to set up the current system for conservation easements.”
“Agriculture is an important part of our state, and WSGA and the Wyoming Wool Growers are the voice of Wyoming producers,” he says.
Changes in ag through the years
Kermit notes several changes through the years within the agricultural industry.
“When I started practicing law in the mid-70s, agriculture in Wyoming was still, for the most part, owner-operators and owner-producers, and there was a lot of owner-carried or seller-carried financing,” he explains. “There was a lot of local participation by the owners of the ranches and the local business enterprises in the community.”
This is largely gone now, he notes.
“Today, I see many ranches are owned by absentee owners, and there are not very many owner-operators left; there are a few, but not like there used to be,” Kermit mentions. “Most of these ranches are cash deals, and there is very little financing available.”
Several technical changes in ag include the round baler and the replacement of the horse with the four-wheeler.
“When you take a long look back – when I worked on ranches in the 60s, we did a lot of things horseback,” he says. “Now, many ranches don’t have a horse on them.”
WSGA’s consistent existence
“WSGA celebrating its 150th anniversary shows its resiliency through the years – it shows continuity, and this resiliency has been the heart and soul of Wyoming since the beginning,” he shares. “WSGA has had good times and bad times, and incidentally, I represented WSGA in a lawsuit about preferential leasing of state lands – it was a big issue – they were trying to take state leases away and make them competitively bid on state leases every time.”
“When you look back at the history of WSGA, there is an ambiance there and having been a lawyer to represent WSGA means a lot to me,” he says.
There is a lot of history throughout WSGA and Willis Van Devanter, a WSGA lawyer, is the only lawyer from Wyoming who went on to serve the U.S. Supreme Court, Kermit adds.
“When I was in the legislature, I thought WSGA was a big help to me,” Kermit concludes. “I tried to be a big help to them, and we did get a number of issues resolved I think were beneficial to WSGA. I always felt good about the work we did. I felt we were working to do the right thing for the state of Wyoming alongside WSGA.”
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.