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Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Casper – On Dec. 7, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) held their annual Awards Luncheon just prior to closing the 2016 Winter Roundup with their business meeting.

In addition to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming Department of Agriculture Access Recognition Awards, which will be printed in the Dec. 17 Roundup, WSGA presented a special award to Rep. Kermit Brown, who served in the Wyoming Legislature until this year, and recognized three nominees for the Leopold Conservation Award.

Special recognition

WSGA honored Rep. Kermit Brown of Laramie, who did not run for re-election this year. Brown served in the Wyoming Legislature beginning in 2005. In 2013-14, he was the House Majority Floor Leader, and he advanced to Speaker of the House in 2015-16.

“It’s my special honor today to pay recognition to an individual who served the state of Wyoming and the agricultural community so well, my friend, Speaker Brown,” WSGA President Niels Hansen said. “When I look at the table here, I don’t see the Speaker of the House. I see the guy who came to help us brand calves or my friend sitting on the running board of the trailer, sharing a beer and telling stories.”

To Brown, Hansen said, “Kermit, I’d like to thank you for all you’ve done for us. Thank you for being my friend, my teacher and my mentor. I’m a better man for knowing you. Thank you.”

WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna noted that he first began working with Brown while Brown served as WSGA’s attorney during some state lands litigation. They continued working together when Brown was elected to the House of Representatives.

“I work with a lot of legislators, and we have a great relationship with most of them, but the relationship I have with Kermit Brown is different,” Magagna said. “We've talked about the issues and had disagreements, but I always had a feeling than we were communicating beyond the words we were speaking.”

Magagna noted that Brown’s influence in the legislature, as well as his ability to read the feeling of how legislation will fare, was instrumental in helping to pass legislation or take a different approach. 

“We will miss Kermit in the legislature,” Magagna said.

Brown mentioned, “This is very humbling. I really appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed and always believed in this industry. I’ve done everything in the industry that could to help it.”

“I love what farmers and ranchers do,” he concluded, “and I hope that we never lose it.”

Environmental Stewardship nominees

WSGA also recognized three finalists for the Leopold Conservation Award.

Committee Chair Diana Berger thanked committee members Rachel Mealor, Doug Miyamoto, Grant Stumbough, Bobbie Frank and Jim Magagna for their time.

“They spent a lot of time pouring over applications and ultimately going on site visits with the finalists,” she said.

Finalists include Pete and Ethel Garrett of Casper, Larry and Ruthie Cundall of Glendo and Larry and Jean Vignaroli of Buffalo.

The award winner will be announced in the Jan. 7, 2017 edition of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup.

Saige Albert 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..

Laramie – “The most important thing we can learn from college is how to learn,” said Sage Askin, a young rancher from Lusk.

Askin concluded a panel discussion titled, “Preparing the Next Generation of Wyoming Ranchers” at the 2016 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, held in Laramie June 1-4. He was joined by University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources professors, who emphasized what they teach in their classrooms on campus.

“Open-mindedness is the second most valuable thing we can learn,” Askin added. “It’s hard to stop a person that has those two things.”

Lessons learned

Askin graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2011 with a degree in rangeland management, but he noted that the information he learned in college was far from all he needed to be successful as a rancher.

“Another thing we can learn is that more heads are better than one,” he said. “If we try to go it alone, we’re not going to do as well.”

Askin added that the university also emphasized the importance of networking.

“That carries on for the rest of our lives,” he commented. “The friendships and connections I have made have helped me, and I believe they will continue to help me.”

“It truly is about standing on the shoulders of giants, as Stephen Hawking wrote,” Askin added. “It’s the people we know and can learn from that help us to stand tall.”

“We have to have the social skills and human relationships,” he said.

College courses

While in college, Askin also noted that it’s about more than taking a single course or degree program.

“There’s not a single degree field that will set anyone up to become a rancher,” he said. “I tried to tailor my courses, but I skipped the boring stuff – and I shouldn’t have.”

Askin asserted that economics and business courses have more of an impact than perhaps range management or animal science course work.

“An ag business degree might be better to have than anything else,” he added.


“We all have our own passions,” Askin said. “Every student goes to school with something that they’re interested in. The sooner they can jump into a degree program that will allow them to follow it, and take other classes on the side, the better.”

Askin also noted that it’s important to select a specialty and pursue something that they’re interested in. However, he said that it’s important to add additional coursework on the side for a well-rounded overall education.

“If I were to make a recommendation, I’d say pick a specialty, become good at it but keep a broad view,” he said. “Never become too narrowed down. We have to be holistic managers and keep a holistic approach. If we get too tapped into the details, we’re going to lose sight of the big picture, which leads to success.”

Being successful

“There’s three main things that make ranches successful,” Askin said. “Those are grazing management, marketing and stockmanship. I’ll stand by those.”

However, he noted that the other aspects of ranching aren’t to be devalued, but they are tools in a big toolbox.

Managing the resource and selling a product are the most important pieces of a story. He also added that at the end of the day, ranching is about selling a product, and if ranchers lose sight of that, they will be less effective and profitable.

“Every class we take has an impact. Every conversation we have can teach us something,” he said.

Harnessing information

In today’s connected world, Askin commented that it is important to plan for the future and be prepared for all potential outcomes in any situation.

“I’m constantly producing contingency plans for what could happen,” he said. “It’s important.”

“We’re more connected that ever before, and we can contact more people and have more of an impact than in the history of the world,” Askin added. “Based on that, we’re ranching in an era of greater opportunity than has been seen before, contrary to pessimism. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic.”

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..

Casper – “Good fences make good neighbors,” has been a longtime rancher’s creed, along with the fact that “the best fence is horse high, pig tight and bull strong.”

Unfortunately, many new people that are moving into subdivisions and ranchettes do not have the same views on fencing.

There has been a lot of discussion in Wyoming in recent months about whether there is a need for a statute to be written to codify Wyoming’s status as a fence-out or fence-in state. 

Historically the issue of fencing has been backed up by case law. 

“Most of that case law is over 100 years old,” explained Leanne Correll, the Wyoming Livestock Board’s (WLSB) director. 

Correll, along with other WLSB members,  spoke at the 2013 Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Round held in Casper in early December. 

Many that attended the Brand Committee meeting were ranchers across the state that expressed their concerns and opinions about Wyoming having a statute over fence law. 

“There have been discussions around the state in recent months about a fence-in law. There is a preference to being a fence-out state by many producers,” said Todd Heward, member of the WLSB. 

Many members warned that people should be careful for what they ask for. 

Once a statute is made about fencing, it could be very difficult to change later. Thus far, by using case law, fencing issues have been settled, WSLB members said. Making the case law into statute could turn the tables, they continued. 

“We are afraid that if we had a civil challenge to the law and somebody wanted to take their neighbor to task over that 100-year case law, it would not hold up in today’s court system with judges and prosecutors we have in today’s world,” said Correll.

Madeline Robinson is assistant 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..

At the Oct. 24 Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) meeting, the agency’s Chapter 8 and Chapter 17 rules took high priority on the agenda, as well as an update on the recent brucellosis activity in Park County.

The Chapter 8 livestock import rules, which have been out for public comment, will now go back out for comment after being revised based on the comments that have been received.

“We’re working to get those revisions typed in, and then it will go back to the Governor’s office with request to go out for public comment again,” says Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan.

One of the revisions replaces the equine interstate movement permit. Although it’s only been requested once, it’s been put back in the rules as it was originally written.

There are also changes to the identification requirements for tuberculosis in the cattle and bison section.

“If cattle or bison come from a foreign country, they’d be required to have and maintain the country of origin official identification,” says Logan. “Many tuberculosis-tested Mexican cattle come into this country and then their tags are removed and there’s no good way to track them, so if people do that those cattle won’t be allowed to come into Wyoming.”

There is also an exception on the requirement for an official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection if the animals are being imported from adjacent states to a licensed vet in the state for treatment, testing or diagnosis.

“They could come in without a certificate, as long as they were going directly to the veterinarian and directly back to the state of origin, which would still require a brand inspection to leave Wyoming,” explains Logan.

During the meeting the board also discussed the proposed APHIS traceability rule, and they reviewed the comments Logan had drafted to send to the federal agency.

“They had some additions, including comments on the economic impact to the industry and a request to maintain brands as a method of official identification,” notes Logan.

The board passed two motions – one opposing the traceability rule, but suggesting that APHIS provide it as a guidance document to the state to develop their own identification and traceability programs. The other opposed the removal of brands and tattoos from the definition of identification in the proposed rule.

After the board reviews the revisions to the comments they’ll be sent to APHIS, which has a comment deadline of Dec. 9. To submit your own comments on the rule, visit

In his update on brucellosis in Park County, Logan says he told the board that every operation that was under quarantine has been released, with the exception of the new cattle herd found about a month ago, and the bison herd can’t yet be released from quarantine.

Because the positive animals in the most recent cases of brucellosis were under 18 months of age, Logan says the board did discuss the potential for future revisions of the Chapter 2 brucellosis rules, potentially moving testing requirements back to 12 months of age, depending on public comment and sound science.

Draft changes to Chapter 17 were also reviewed, which have to do with the issue and use of in-state range movement permits. Logan says the reason for those changes is to bring the rules into accordance with recent statutory changes.

Of the legislation discussed at their last board meeting and in the meeting of the Joint Ag Committee in Afton in late September, Logan says the WLSB is still in the process of drafting some changes to the state livestock identification and indemnity payments bills.

WLSB Director Leanne Stevenson says the state agency’s budget was also discussed.

“We’re waiting to see the Governor’s budget when it comes out,” she says, noting that it’s traditionally released around Dec. 1. “Until that point we won’t know what will go on with our budget, so we’re in a holding pattern unitl then. Sometime after that we’ll meet with the Joint Appropriations Committee to justify and defend our requests, as well.”

Stevenson says the biggest push with this year’s budget is the effort to get the WLSB fully computerized.

“We do have the support of the current Governor for computerization, and the technology department and the Office of the Chief Information Officer has made a push for getting all of the state of Wyoming technologically up to speed,” she comments.

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..

Sheridan – With the theme of “Nuts and Bolts of Your Industry,” the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Summer Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show took an intimate look inside the national organizations representing the industry, particularly the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC).

“It’s helpful for producers on the ground to have a little perspective on the nuts and bolts of national organization,” said Todd Johnson of NCBA.

Cattle organization

NCBA is one of the nation’s most highly-recognized cattle organizations, and Johnson noted that the current model that the organization operates under is only 20 years old.

In the early 90s, Johnson explained that an industry-wide group of producers gathered to figure out how to connect with consumers, be a more effective industry and be more efficient in their operations.

“A plan was put together and out of that plan came the principle for a merger of industry organizations,” he explained, noting that in 1996, NCBA came from the merger of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Beef Industry Council of the National Livestock and Meat Board, U.S. Meat Export Federation, CattleWomen and others. “There were many of us nationally doing things that were very similar.”

The merger resulted in a very efficient organization with two divisions – policy and checkoff – all based on producer input.


“NCBA is built on producers at the grassroots level,” Johnson continued. “The state affiliate organizations fill the policy division of NCBA. WSGA and its leadership is substantial in our organization.”

He also noted that on the other side, the state beef councils are represented on the foundation side of the federation division.

“The unique thing is that both of those come together in one board meeting,” Johnson noted. “We answer to one board.”

However, in voting on issues, a division is made between policy and checkoff decisions, and the appropriate entities vote on issues affecting their respective arenas.

“If we are voting on or approving the slate of officers, for example, it is a joint issue,” he noted.


NCBA achieves efficiency in its operation by combining the redundant administrative duties of both groups.

“We have a checkoff-centric group, which does part of the work on behalf of the beef checkoff program as a contractor,” Johnson explained. “We also do work on behalf of the state beef councils.”

In the government affairs sector of the organization, a team works to advance legislative and regulatory policies in Washington, D.C. to support and promote the industry.

“We also have shared services, including accounting, communications and human resources,” he said. “We gain efficiencies of size and scale there.”


Because NCBA houses the federation and policy divisions, when issues facing the industry arise, they are able to attack the concern from a multi-pronged approach.

Johnson used the dietary guidelines as a recent example of how this strategy can work.

“We assemble what we call a core issues response team,” he said. “We pull staff from the policy division who understand the regulations around dietary guidelines. We pull a subject matter expert from the checkoff side who understands the nutrition research. We pull a communications person from the policy side who understands what they need to do to make headway in Washington, D.C., and we also pull a communications expert from the checkoff who knows how to relate to the consumer.”

By working together, the organization is able to accomplish more than any group may be able to achieve on its own.

Public lands

Another important agency on the national scale, PLC, also works with NCBA in many ways.

PLC’s Executive Director Dustin van Liew represents NCBA on federal lands, Endangered Species Act and water rights issues. He also serves to carry out the direction determined by the Board of the organization.

“PLC was established in 1968,” he explained. “It represents 22,000 entities that hold grazing permits. PLC is the sole organization in Washington, D.C. at the national level dedicated fully to representing producers who hold permits or have grazing rights on federal lands.”

Inside PLC

PLC is comprised of state affiliates in the cattle and sheep industry, as well as national affiliates, such as NCBA, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Association of National Grasslands.

“We don’t operate as other organizations with direct membership do, where one pays dues as a direct member,” van Liew explained. “We do operate as an umbrella-type organization where each state has a director and three additional delegates that sit on our board of directors, which dictates how PLC operates and moves forward.”

As with NCBA, PLC members bring resolutions to the annual meeting and legislative meeting each year. The resolutions direct the work of van Liew and his colleague Marci Schlup, a Wyoming native who works in Washington, D.C.

Lobbying work

PLC has full-time lobbying representation that looks at a variety of issues on the national level, particularly for those states in western, public lands states.

“We continue to work with our national affiliates and visit with those states outside the West on the importance of keeping access to federal lands, not just for the ranching industry, but for the oil and gas industry that continues to rule our country,” van Liew mentioned. “It is an important part of keeping range access open and keeping ranchlands in the West.”

Because about 40 percent of the western cattle herd and 50 percent of the U.S. sheep herd spends at least some time on federal lands, van Liew emphasized that access to livestock grazing on federal lands is imperative.

“As we visit with folks at regional and national meeting, it is imperative to remind them that if the federal government removes livestock grazing on federal lands, it doesn’t just impact the states in the West, it also impacts the overall industry across the U.S. for both sheep and cattle.”

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..