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Wyoming Livestock Board

Casper – In an update on the Wyoming brand program, Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) Director Jim Schwartz said his agency has a large reserve account, and thanked the industry for supporting the program.
Schwartz’s update came during the Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Roundup in Casper Dec. 13.
“I want to thank the industry for supporting the brand program. Today we have a pretty big reserve account that varies between two and two and a half million dollars. We’ve worked really hard on being conservative and building this fund in case we have a drought or disease. I strongly recommend you to encourage the board members to save that account for a rainy day,” said Schwartz.
He added that the brand inspection mileage fee has gone from 48 to 50 cents per mile, which has impacted the budget, and to offset the increase in mileage the board has proposed three fee increases for 2011.
“We are looking at ways to make that up, and are considering raising the in-state movement permits from $50 to $60 per year, and raising the out-of-state accustomed range permit inspection fees from an amount equal to 25 percent of the inspection fees to 30 percent of the current inspection feed for livestock. Increasing the G-Form fee from 75 cents to 90 cents when going to out-of-state markets is the third proposed increase.
“This has been a little controversial, but it would generate about $17,000, which would make up the difference in our mileage fee, somewhat,” noted Schwartz.
The board hasn’t made a decision on allowing a G-Form to go to the Crawford Livestock Market in Crawford, Neb. from Wyoming, and Schwartz said there were differences of opinion among board members on what to do with the G-Form.
“In my opinion, if we expand where we can go to Crawford on a G-Form, then they will want to go to Nebraska on one, then Colorado, Montana and Utah, and that would break our brand program. But, if we did away with the G-Form into South Dakota, it would probably require two additional employees in our brand program. It will ultimately be a board decision,” said Schwartz.
Entering a brand renewal year in 2011 will also help build income for the brand program. “We have about 5,000 registered brands, and between 80 and 82 percent are being renewed, which is pretty respectable,” noted Schwartz.
He also provided an update on current legislation that pertains to the brand program.
“One issue in Wyoming is there are a lot of hobby ranches coming out. In Wyoming there are about 9,000 agriculture producers. In Laramie County alone we have 11,500 people living on five- to 35-acre parcels of land. We are trying to figure out how to work with these individuals, and so far it’s been very frustrating for some county commissioners,” noted Schwartz. He lists a free-running yak operation in Johnson County as one hobby farm issue that local government is trying to deal with.
“The proposed legislation gives counties the ability to react to some of those issues. The downside is that there may be instances where all the county commissioners are from town, and don’t understand agriculture. That is a legitimate concern that is happening in our state,” explained Schwartz.
The second piece of legislation he mentioned will deal with the animal welfare issue.
“The Wyoming Livestock Board is responsible for every dumb, living creature out there. We are looking at how to split this issue so we separate pets and livestock, and protect our animal husbandry practices,” he noted. “Our proposal will be to give some authority to counties on the most prevalent pet-related issues, and our number one goal needs to be protecting our animal husbandry practices in Wyoming on the livestock side. We need your support on this.”
“The last piece of legislation relates to quarantines. Today when we quarantine something, we have no way to force a test. An example of this was a recent bunch of 87 horses that came to Wyoming with no Coggins test. They were quarantined, and the guy said he didn’t care about the Coggins or moving his horses. There was no way for us to force a test.
“We can quarantine animals, and the producer can’t move or market them. But, if you have animals you want to keep forever, we can’t force a test, and we are proposing a change in the quarantine statute to address that,” noted Schwartz.
When asked about the state’s brucellosis status, Schwartz said that at this point it doesn’t look like Wyoming will lose its brucellosis-free status over the recent cases in Park and Sublette counties.
“This can be good or bad. One Pinedale rancher said he wants the whole state on Class A status, because that keeps the issue on the main burner,” noted Schwartz.
“I think the feds are the problem in this issue, and you should get some money from them. The Game and Fish claim the elk and bison, and we’re free except for the reservoir they contain,” commented Chas Cain.
“That is something that should be considered,” replied Swchartz. “Ranchers in that area of the state are doing everything in their ability to stay clean. They’re testing and vaccinating every animal and just working really hard to make sure their herds aren’t infected, yet the elk and bison could infect them tomorrow.”
Of the future, Schwartz feels the agency needs to become computerized to help with disease traceback and other time sensitive issues.
“We asked for $360,000 this year to initiate the computerization, and were denied by the Governor. We’re working hard to see it happen, and it’s the highest priority for myself, the board and the brand program,” said Schwartz.
“In conclusion, we’re pretty steady. The industry has built a really good earmarked account, and it’s the industry’s money. There is the fear that if it builds too high the legislature will say they’ll take it, but we need to work at protecting that money for a rainy day,” said Schwartz.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

As the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB)’s Brand Recording Division gears up for the 2015 brand renewal period, Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa notes, “2015 is one of our bigger years as far as brand renewal.”

He encourages producers to make sure to get their brand renewal information in prior to the March 1 deadline, or a fee must be paid to avoid having the brand listed as abandoned. 

As with every renewal period, the WLSB is statutorily required to send out renewal notices to brand owners. The notice is delivered to the last known address of the brand owner. 

“As every renewal goes, we have a lot of our renewal reminders returned in the mail,” Romsa says. “People have passed away, moved or are out of business.”

If brand owners move, he also encouraged them to contact the WLSB with a new address. 

The 2015 brand renewal period ends March 1. 

2014 numbers

Looking back to 2014, Romsa notes that brand inspection numbers showed indications of rebuilding of Wyoming’s cattle herds. 

“In 2012, we had a pretty good sell-off of cattle, so numbers were down in 2013,” he explains. “By December 2014, we were almost at the same numbers for brand inspection as 2013 totals. It looks like our cattle numbers are starting to kick up again.” 

Brand inspectors

With cattle numbers returning, he also notes that brand inspectors are beginning to retire, and the WLSB is consistently seeking new, qualified individuals to serve as brand inspectors. 

“It has been increasingly tough to get good quality candidates to apply for these jobs,” Romsa says. “Any producer who knows someone who might be good as a brand inspector, should contact the WLSB.”

In 2014, the division received funding from the Wyoming Legislature to increase the salary for brand inspectors, but Romsa notes that additional increases are needed to stay competitive with other industries in the state. 

“We are getting some good candidates applying for these jobs,” he comments, “but in parts of the state where we have seen recent energy development, it is getting tough to compete.”

“Anything we can do to work with producers to get good quality people in these jobs would be greatly appreciated,” Romsa says. 

Computerization

With brand renewal in full swing, Romsa also notes that the WLSB continues to work on their computerization project. 

“Since Sept. 1, the brand recording system is up and running live,” he explains. “We are doing brand renewal with the new system.”

He says that, while the system isn’t yet perfect, the WLSB is working out bugs as they come up. 

“All of our renewals this year will go into our new system,” Romsa says. 

WLSB Director Doug Miyamoto adds, “It seems like computerization should be an easy thing to accomplish, but as we have gone through our process, there is a lot of code writing that has to be done before we are fully computerized. It is going to take some time and patience to be able to get the new system working and working well.”

Because of the complicated nature of brands, Miyamoto also notes that he anticipates the process will be complex, but they will work to make sure it works well to accomplish the goals of the agency. 

“I would estimate that we are one-third of the way done with the project,” he says, “and we are on pace with the expenditure of money, as well.”

Miyamoto also comments that getting the system into the hands of brand inspectors will present an additional hurdle. 

“Everything is working so far, but it is going to be a task to get everything working the way we need it to,” he says.  

Romsa presented during the 2014 Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Roundup, held the first week of December 2014. 

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cheyenne – After an $11,000 water bill from the Cheyenne Stockyards, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) is considering multiple options for what to do with the facility. 

WLSB Interim Director Doug Miyamoto reported on the situation at both the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee meeting on April 22-23 in Worland and the WLSB teleconference on April 29. 

“In March, I received a $4,000 water bill,” he explained. “That is exponentially higher than normal, so I asked staff to call the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities to terminate service while we called a plumber.”

Because a warehouse behind the stockyard facilities owned by Streamflow Industries utilizes the same water line for their fire suppression system, the Board of Public Utilities said they could not terminate services.

At the same time, a plumber replaced a leaking valve, believing the problem to be solved.

“On the morning of April 8, I met with the city of Cheyenne, and they informed me that we had used 1 million gallons of water between March 10 and April 8,” Miyamoto said. “We were looking at an $11,000 water bill.”

The water service was terminated at that point.

Stockyards summary

“The stockyards facility along the railroad tracks has been under WLSB custody for about 40 years,” says Miyamoto. 

The facility is leased to a subcontractor to run the facility. The successful bidder is required to invest $1,000 into maintenance and improvement of the facility each year.

“We have a contract with the Board of Public Utilities for the water and with Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power for the power,” described Miyamoto. “Typically, we would bill the contractor for the utilities charges.”

“That being said,” he continued, “I don’t know that we can bill the contractor for that much water.” 

Joint Ag opinions

Joint Ag Committee member Senator Ogden Driskill asked what the impact would be if the facility was removed and if there were other options for those who use the stockyards as a resting facility for livestock.

“There are people we could pay to house livestock and the cost would not be more,” Miyamoto answered. “At the same time, it is nice to have our own facility that we can control when we have animal welfare issues.”

“The facility itself is also looked at as a service,” he continued.

In the past, Miyamoto also stated that the Union Pacific Railroad, who owns the land the facility sits on, has indicated if the contract was terminated, the infrastructure would all have to be removed within a 30-day time frame – an endeavor that previous estimates pegged at $250,000. 

Senator Larry Hicks added, “I would suggest we ask the Attorney General to review the existing contract and the state’s liability. Then we can have a better discussion to make better decisions moving forward.”

The committee passed a motion directing Miyamoto to that effect, and he reported to the WLSB that the Joint Ag Committee asked him to follow up with an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office as to what it would require to turn the facility back over to the Union Pacific Railroad. 

Details

“I wanted the Joint Ag Committee to be aware of the situation down there,” said Miyamoto on April 29. “Since then, I have received a response to my original appeal letter to the Board of Public Utilities. They relieved us of $3,000 of the bill amount.”

While Miyamoto said that the relief is a significant amount, he plans to review whether or not he should continue to fight for relief of the remaining $8,000. 

“I need to review whether this is worth sticking with or not,” he commented. “I will review that with the Attorney General’s Office, so they can take time to look over the details.”

Repair

Additionally, Miyamoto noted he has been in contact with Construction Management for the state of Wyoming and what to do with the facility. 

“I got the sense from the Joint Ag Committee that they wanted us to explore what it would take to get out of the contract and walk away from the stockyards,” he said. “Until I have more definition as to what they want to do, I don’t want to make recommendations.”

Complicating factors

Despite the desire to remove water from the system, Miyamoto notes that another company – Streamflow Industries – is positioned behind the stockyards and utilizes the water as their fire suppression system.

“They claim they don’t use the water for anything else,” he explains, “but I did tell them it would be my recommendation that we separate the water lines and put a meter on their usage.”

Miyamoto noted that the situation was both complicated and unique, since Streamflow Industries worked with the Wyoming Business Council to relocate to Cheyenne. 

Board member Pat Cullen inquired as to whether Streamflow Industries may be responsible for part of the water bill, since the water could not be shut off because of their fire suppression needs.

Miyamoto commented, “We don’t have a formal agreement with Streamflow Industries or even a recognition that we were using the same water line. No one ever drafted a contract for payment for any water use.”

WLSB input

“I really hate to see us spend all our money on the bill where we may not have all the responsibility,” Cullen commented.

Board member Bob Lucas added, “I think Doug is doing well in pursuing this effort. Dropping the bill $3,000 is a step in the right direction, but I think $8,000 is still too much, and we shouldn’t cave.”

The remainder of the Board offered no comment, and Board President Joe Thomas asked Miyamoto and the Attorney General’s Office to continue pursuing the issue and determine costs to remove or fix the facilities to help the Board make an educated decision moving forward.

“We do have movement on this issue, and I have awareness at every level of government,” Miyamoto continued. “We will continue working on what it would require to sever the contract or what our liabilities would be if we don’t.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at saige@wylr.net.


SIDEBAR:

Rule passage

After a comment period ending on March 3, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) moved to pass all amendments to the Chapter 17, 18 and 19 rules, which repeal Chapters 18 and 19 and make changes to Chapter 17.

State Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa said, “I didn’t get any written comments on these rules.”

However, he did receive verbal comments from Wyoming Farm Bureau concerning summer trailing permits between counties.

“Currently under summer trailing permits, livestock owners can only go from one county to another,” said Brett Moline of Wyoming Farm Bureau. “Many of our members, particularly those with three-county borders, would like the option to travel to two counties with just one permit.”

After determining that this change can be addressed outside the Chapter 17, 18 and 19 changes that were under review, the WLSB passed the rule changes. 

Summer trailing permits will also be discussed during the next WLSB meeting.

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Douglas – On Aug. 11 the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a 115-page proposed rule to “establish general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate when animal disease events take place.”

“Our proposal strives to meet the diverse needs of the animal agriculture industry and our state and tribal partners, while also helping us all reach our goal of increased animal disease traceability,” said chief veterinary officer for the United States John Clifford upon the rule’s release. “We believe reaching our goals on traceability will help save the industry and American taxpayer’s money in the long term.”

However, members of Wyoming’s ag industry have their doubts, and at the Wyoming Livestock Board’s listening session at the Wyoming State Fair on Aug. 17, Wyoming Assistant State Veterinarian Bob Meyer shared his thoughts on the proposal, which is open for public comment for 90 days until Nov. 9.

“This will impact producers in Wyoming, big time,” said Meyer, noting the rule would will apply to cattle, bison, horses, poultry, sheep, goats, swine and captive cervids. “The next 90 days are critical for the industry to study this thing, get their comments and look at the impacts. Any time there are impacts, you know there’s a cost involved, and you can figure out where that cost will come back to.”

“We’ve been talking about a voluntary program here in Wyoming, and what that would look like, but we’ve yet to define that,” said Meyer. “This rule will help give us some strong guidance, at least if our cattle will leave Wyoming going to other states, on what will have to be on those cattle.”

Meyer said USDA’s plan is to phase in the traceability program, through a Phase I and Phase II. Phase I of the program would require all sexually intact cattle 18 months of age and older to be officially identified, as well as dairy cattle and bison of any age, in addition to cattle used for rodeo, recreational events, shows or exhibitions.

However, he said that, as with any rule, there are exceptions, such as commuter herds. Cattle would also be allowed to cross state lines with a form of identification apart from official ID as agreed upon by the respective state veterinarians.

“Therein lies the brand issue, and right now we have no idea which of our surrounding states will participate with us,” said Meyer. “We have an idea that some will, but we don’t think they all will. If this finally goes into affect, after comments are taken and after USDA looks at the comments for months or years, at that time we’ll talk with the surrounding state vets to see who will accept brands as identification.”

Another exception in Phase I are cattle moving directly to slaughter through an approved sale yard – they can move with a USDA-approved backtag.

Eventually, Meyer said USDA would like to get to the point where every cow has only one official identification device.

“They want only one official ID or method applied, but with certain exceptions. State vets can approve second devices, and if you have cows and calves that are already Bangs vaccinated, but want an RFID tag, you can put it in, as well,” said Meyer. “They eventually see the cows with only one official ID in their ear from birth to death – that’s their vision.”

He added that doesn’t include a producer’s ranch tags.

Naturally, the removal of an official ID device is prohibited, except at slaughter, and producers would be able to replace original tags with new ones.

“If you know what the other tag was, write that down and keep those records for five years,” said Meyer.

Of the reality of the impacts, Meyer said he thinks they will be seen mainly at markets.

“This program requires an ICVI, or Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, for non-slaughter cattle,” said Meyer. “A copy of the certificate has to be forwarded to the state of origin, then that state has five days to send it to the state of destination. What I see is the biggest impact is the official ID number must be recorded on the ICVI, unless the cattle are less than 18 months of age or are dairy steers, non-rodeo steers and spayed heifers.”

For example, he said if 150 cows are going from Worland to Nebraska for feeding, all 150 cows will have to be put through the chute to have their ID number individually written on the face of the health certificate.

“Auction barn owners will be really interested in the impacts on them,” said Meyer of the time required to write down the individual IDs.

Meyer said the intent of the program is for all steers and feeder heifers to have official identification when shipped interstate, but if they’re less than 18 months of age they don’t have to be individually listed on the health certificate – they just have to have a statement saying they’re individually identified.

“Right now, Phase I only talks about adult breeding cows 18 months and older,” noted Meyer, adding that another problem he sees is what happens with those individual IDs on the ICVIs after they’re read and recorded.

“What good is the paper record?” he asked. “It’s not searchable, but the intent is that these will be state programs, so the IDs will need to be put into a state database. If we do all this work, how will we get the information into a searchable database? The USDA is saying this will be a state program, so it’s up to us to enter the information.”
Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan and Meyer have already been in discussions with APHIS on the proposed traceability rule, and they’ve also been on conference calls with industry groups.

“At our last two listening sessions the Livestock Board has talked about the possibility of developing a voluntary program that fits Wyoming,” said Logan. “At this stage in the game we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle to know what we should shoot for, but we know more now than we did even a few weeks ago, so we need to have discussions in-state on what we can do to help producers be in compliance.”

“Regardless of what happens with the federal rule, the other states will develop identification requirements for cattle, sheep and goats that are being imported into their states. I’d hope there wouldn’t end up being 50 programs we have to satisfy to export our Wyoming cattle,” continued Logan. “It’s imminently important now that our industry and the Livestock Board continue dialogue to put something together for a Wyoming program we can make work for us.”

Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..