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Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Pinedale – With many ranchers in Wyoming holding grazing permits on public lands, navigating federal agencies’ processes and policies can seem overwhelming. With an eye to educating permittees on their actual rights – or lack thereof – the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) hosted a members’ update followed by a special program for Sublette County ranchers in Pinedale on Aug. 9 with Colorado attorney Cody Doig.

WSGA interests

WSGA President Dennis Sun opened the meeting, welcoming personnel from the Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and overviewing the challenges of operating on federal lands. WSGA Executive Director Jim Magagna then introduced Cody Doig, attorney with C.E. Brookes and Associates in Denver, Colo.

Doig said his presentation, titled “Federal Livestock Grazing Permits – Rights, Privileges and Protecting Your Ranch,” is informed by his working relationship with Connie Brooks, who has been involved with these issues for 30 years.

It’s important to understand grazing privileges on public lands and know “how to be involved with permits,” he said.

More importantly, he explained, permittees actually have few, if any, legal rights recognized by courts when it comes down to use or need. Where they do have rights is in the relevant agency’s decision-making process, which can be affected by ranchers “connecting the dots” for decision-makers.

Working together

The first step in taking advantage of opportunities to be engaged, build good relationships with FS or BLM range personnel and protect permittee interests starts with keeping folders for grazing permits in a way that documents conversations and decisions, Doig told the audience.

Then, if permittees want to protest or try to find a compromise for a BLM or FS permit decision, they have a solid foundation of information. There are required processes under federal regulations where ranchers have the right to interrupt with or without legal assistance.

Case law has shown time and again that permits are not accompanied by any rights to forage or to the land, Doig said.

“The Taylor Grazing Act gave the Secretary of the Interior authority to divide grazing districts, to specify the amount of grazing and issue a permit – but it did not create any right to it,” he said.

Rather, he explained, a grazing permit is a “license” or “tacit consent” for the land’s use – “implied license from the custom of 100 years.”

The Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA) “has the exact same language as the Taylor Grazing Act,” Doig continued.

Fighting for rights

He then used the decades-long litigation by the Wayne Hage family as an example of fighting for “rights” that the Supreme Court denies come with permits.

“Don’t bet the ranch,” he said. “Legal theories that haven’t won, won’t win, unless Congress changes some laws. If we pursue it, it will just cost time, energy and maybe a ranch.”

Also, the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment about property rights will not protect grazing permits “as compensable property.”

As for “strict adherence to policies and manuals – they change. We’ve already seen them change since last Monday,” Doig said. “They are malleable, nonbinding documents.”

He added that interpretations can also vary from one district or field office to the next.

Decisions and appeals

Doig also broke down the decision and appeal processes for FS and BLM permittees.

“What do the regulations say? What does FLPMA say? We have to start there,” Doig advised.

With folders for grazing allotment permits on public lands, Doig advised, potential conflicts or unpleasant changes might be remedied early on by including the permittee’s entire family history with the BLM or FS.

For those without past documents, Doig noted that BLM and FS files are available from the permitting agency’s own files or can be obtained in a very detailed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency.

Agency files should be kept in the relevant folders with all documentation needed for permit renewal, which Doig said is ranchers’ “due diligence” to undertake as soon as current permits are renewed.

Actions

Doig emphasized that ranchers must stay involved in their permits and not be complacent about involvement with federal lands agencies.

“We also can’t just turn on and turn off and forget about being involved for another eight years,” Doig said, adding, “We should work with our range conservationists and agency personnel. Prepare for permit renewal and get involved with local governments and conservation districts. Get the ranch’s complete file. Document previous discussions.”

Building these foundations “may be intimidating, but if done in the spirit of cooperation, permittees can get good results, especially if they have concerns that might be resolved well before final decisions,” he noted.

“It comes back to the fact that it’s the responsibility of a permittee to provide as much information as possible,” Doig said.

Magagna agreed, “I think we as permittees can help a lot with this process.”

Joy Ufford is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. She is also a reporter for the Pinedale Roundup and Sublette Examiner. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sheridan – Who is behind much of the work in Wyoming’s agricultural industry? 

“Join us for the 2015 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show to find out and learn about the ‘Nuts and Bolts of Your Industry,’” says the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA).

The convention will be held June 3-6 at the Holiday Inn in Sheridan, and a full schedule promises education opportunities for everyone.

With the theme “Nuts and Bolts of Your Industry,” the event will be filled with panel discussions and speakers focusing on helping producers to understand what state agencies, ag organizations and other groups do every day. 

As particular highlights of the convention, WSGA notes that June 3 will kick off with a welcome reception at the Sheridan Holiday Inn. 

June 4 will feature Miss Wyoming 2014 Jessie Allen and Wyoming State Senator Dave Kinskey speaking about leading for Wyoming agriculture. The day will also host WSGA committee meetings and a reception, raffle and auction at the Sheridan Inn. 

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Philip Ellis will present a national perspective on June 5, and King Ranch, the winner of the 2015 Environment Stewardship Award and Leopold Conservation Award, will also be recognized. Governor Matt Mead will present the Clifford P. Hansen Memorial Scholarship and new WSGA officers will be installed that evening, with dinner entertainment provided by Dave Munsick and the Little Big Band.

Finally, the event will round out on June 6 with the Roundup Breakfast, featuring the Wyoming Congressional Delegation and a look at education and state organizations. 

To register for the 2015 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, visit wysga.org/events and click on “2015 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.” The link offers online registration and the opportunity to be a trade show participant or sponsor for the event.

Room reservations can be made at the Holiday Inn by calling 800-465-4329 or 307-672-8931. A room block is available with a convention rate of $89. Reservations can also be made online with Block Code WSG. The room block will only be held until May 27. 

“Send in pre-registration today and don’t miss the opportunity to mingle with friends as we take advantage of our time in beautiful Sheridan County,” says WSGA President Jim Wilson. 

WSGA has been working for 143 years to support and represent livestock producers across the state to make sure the voice of Wyoming producers is heard at the state and national levels.

Laramie – Through a series of committee meetings and an association-wide business meeting at the Wyoming Cattle Industry 2011 Convention and Trade Show, which ran June 1-4 , the Wyoming Stock Growers Association both amended old policies and adopted new ones, listed as follows:
Stewardship
New Policy:
Whereas the State of Wyoming and its people have been blessed with abundant and spectacular natural resources; and
Whereas the citizens of Wyoming have a moral responsibility to respect and conserve these resources and to use them in a thoughtful and sustainable manner; and
Whereas ranchers have been and remain in the forefront of recognizing and carefully managing our renewable natural resources; and
Whereas the allocation of natural resources is an economic, political and legal decision;
Therefore Be It Resolved that the Wyoming Stock Growers Association strongly opposes efforts by churches and other religious organizations to obtain specific legal designations for our land in the name of moral or religious responsibility.
Water
New Policy:
WSGA supports adopting notice and consent rights to grazing permittees on federal lands regarding actions on federally held water permits and rights as proposed by the State Engineer.
Wildlife
Amended Policies:
# 9 Support the policy of zero tolerance of free roaming bison outside Yellowstone National Park and oppose the return to the Park of any bison that have tested positive for brucellosis.
# 22 Strongly support maintaining the predator status of the wolf in Wyoming except within Yellowstone and Teton National Parks, Jackson Hole Elk Refuge and those congressionally designated wilderness areas contiguous to the parts  that area currently designated by the Wyoming legislature for trophy game status and any additional seasonal area accepted by the Governor of Wyoming and the Wyoming legislature as necessary  for wolf connectivity and that are determined to be necessary to maintain a minimally viable wolf population as defined in a Wyoming Wolf Management Plan.
# 29 Urge the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to provide that every elk license issued in hunt areas within and adjacent to a Wyoming Livestock Board designated surveillance (DSA) area be accompanied by a blood tube test kit that will be used is to be returned with a blood sample to test for brucellosis to help determine the extent of the problem and that the Department provide incentives for the return of these blood samples.
Amended Renewed Policy:   
# 33 Oppose the WGFD obtaining any general fund monies to purchase real estate.

Cheyenne — If the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) is allowed to alter its recently submitted budget cut proposals to the Governor, two Wyoming brand inspectors will regain their jobs with the agency.
    Two of the agency’s inspectors, one in Kaycee and another in Uinta County, were let go late May. Agency administrators say the lay-offs were based on an assessment of inspection numbers and an ability for neighboring inspectors to pick up the slack.
    Kaycee ranchers reacted with fervor sending over 20 written comments to the agency’s Cheyenne office with more to be delivered by area legislators attending a June 17 meeting on the subject. Ranchers from the area said its already difficult to get a brand inspector during the peak times of the year and didn’t believe inspectors from other areas would be available in a timely fashion.
    Senator John Schiffer, during a June 16 WLSB conference call, said ranchers in his area have the highest regard for their brand inspector. Of the individual he said, “There’s a man born to be a brand inspector.”
    To board members on the call, regarding the brand inspectors selected for lay-off Schiffer stated, “It’s my read that it was as much of a surprise to you as it was to those of us in Natrona and Johnson counties.” Schiffer said the board should play a more active in role in these types of discussions and decisions.
    Representative Lisa Shepperson questioned recent additions to the agency’s Cheyenne staff while layoffs are being made in the field. “Why are we hiring more administrative people and firing people who work with the producers?” she asked.
    Board member Eric Barlow successfully motioned that the agency resubmit its budget cuts to the Governor. Funds from the account housing producer fees will replace those cut in the Governor’s efforts to reduce budgets across all sectors of state government. Barlow’s move alters what has been a 65 percent producer funded, 35 percent state funded formula in place since the most recent brand task force’s work was completed.
    Barlow followed up with a second motion, also met with Board approval, to rescind the inspectors’ termination letters. Board approval is also required before any layoffs can be made within the next year.
    “It’s a reasonable short-term solution and gets us to where we want to be right now,” said board member Albert Sommers.
    Barlow pointed out that the changes would leave the board reconsidering its brand fees.
    “I want producers to understand that you have two ways to address the brand program,” said WLSB Director Jim Schwartz. “The only thing we have for expenses is salaries, travel and benefits. I’ve not had anyone tell me we need to raise fees.”
    The changes draw upon the account that protects the brand inspection program from facing financial challenges similar to those seen in recent years. Without growth in cattle numbers, agency administrators say program expenses will outpace revenue generated.
    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..

Denver, Colo. – The annual Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Wyoming Day celebration was held on Jan. 26, when nearly 50 Wyomingites traveled to Denver, Colo. and the National Western Stock Show. 

Among the attendees, six state legislators, Wyoming State Treasurer Curt Meier, Wyoming State Auditor Kristi Racines, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction and sponsors joined WSGA members in a full-day event, which included NWSS tours, lunch a rodeo and more. 

After traveling to Denver, attendees were treated to a luncheon at the National Western Club before touring stock show. 

Members enjoyed the 2019 Wyoming Day Rodeo, where WSGA leadership and Wyoming’s elected officials were escorted around the arena in the National Western coach and wagon.

Olivia Sanchez, WSGA communications, publications and programs director, says, “WSGA was joined by three of Wyoming’s elected officials to celebrate Wyoming Day at the rodeo. Those individuals were introduced to the crowd while riding in a horse-drawn carriage around the arena.”

Following the rodeo, Wyoming Day attendees returned to Cheyenne, stopping in Loveland, Colo. for dinner and the opportunity for continued conversation.

She adds, “It was a really nice event with a great group of WSGA members.” 

Learn more about WSGA and its events at wysga.org.

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..