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Washington, D.C. – On April 11, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) joined 224 food and agricultural companies and associations in sending a letter to members of Congress calling for swift passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

NCBA President Tracy Brunner says cattle producers can’t wait any longer to level the playing field.

Net farm income will increase by $4.4 billion dollars with passage of the TPP, said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, “but if we fail to move forward, it’s not only lost opportunity but we’re losing market share in the region, and we’re facing barriers to our exports that are not based on science or evidence.”

Froman added, “There’s a lot to lose here by delaying.”

Support of the agreement

NCBA Vice President Kevin Kester of California explained that NCBA strongly supports the agreement, mentioning that it provides for economic growth, job growth and expansion of business opportunities for U.S. agriculture.

“Every $1 billion in U.S. ag exports supports over 7,500 American jobs,” he said. “With the TPP estimated to expand exports by more than $123 billion per year, it’s easy to see the benefits of this agreement for the entire U.S. economy.”

For cattle specifically, Kester said that the loss of over $100 million in sales to Japan following a Japanese-Australian economic partnership agreement in early 2015 was a significant event that underscores the need for TPP.

“TPP will immediately level that playing field,” he added.

World trade

Around the world, Froman noted that the U.S. applies an average tariff of 1.4 percent on imported goods, and 80 percent of the imports to the U.S. from TPP countries is already duty-free.

“We also don’t use regulations like sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements as a disguised barrier to trade,” he said, “but as we look to this region and around the world, we face tariffs of up to 50 percent for beef, and countries do use regulations as a barrier to trade.”

Froman explained, “TPP will eliminate or greatly reduce those tariffs and ensure that as tariffs come down, these countries don’t replace them with non-tariff trade barriers.”

On Capitol Hill

“We’re up on the Hill all the time talking to members one-on-one or in groups, going through the agreements and answering questions,” Froman said. “We’re talking about how it will benefit their constituents, and I think there’s a deeper and deeper understanding of that. As we talk to members, they’re going to make their judgment on what this means to their constituents.”

With potential economic losses at stake, Froman says that a one-year delay could cost $94 billion, which equates to a $700 tax on every American family.

“We think there’s a lot at stake here,” he added.

Kester noted that some members of Congress have given NCBA positive feedback, though the congressmen are expressing a need to hear from their constituents.

“It’s important that our members relate to their congressmen that we support the TPP,” he said. “I think it’s going to be tough, but it’s doable. We’re going to push hard and let them know how important it is.”

Kester expressed optimism that the deal will be passed this year.

American made

As the middle class grows around the world, Froman noted that consumers want American-made products, and expanding market opportunity through the TPP will facilitate growth of exports.

“This is a region that’s going to have 3.2 billion middle class consumers by 2023,” he said. “The first thing middle class consumers want is more protein, higher quality food and more nutrition in their diet, and that means more products grown and raised here in the United States.”

Froman continued, “Made in America, Grown in America and Raised in America are great brands in this region. It’s what these consumers want. These countries want us to be involved in their lives. They want our engagement, and we want to be engaged.”

Access to these markets and consumers seeking American goods will be important.

“We’ll get access to these markets, and we don’t want the rules of the road to be set by other countries who may not share our interests and values,” Froman said. “There’s a lot here at stake economically, as well as strategically.”

Froman also noted that while NCBA is focused on the benefits for agriculture, TPP has widespread benefits for the economy as a whole.

“Every part of the U.S. economy is affected,” he said.

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 – The Jan. 15 meeting of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee was addressed by Don Richards, co-chair of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG), who noted, “When it comes to state government, the January CREG revenue estimates modified state operating revenues and increased those revenues by $113.4 million over Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, 2019 and 2020.”

While CREG puts out their report in October, which provides the basis for the Governor’s budget or supplemental budget, the group also provides a January revision prior to the legislative session each year.

“We try not to make philosophical changes, but rather, we make modification to the variables most in need of adjustment,” Richards said. “We made three primary changes in January.”

Sales and use tax

The first major change to the CREG report was an increase in sales and use tax forecast by $12 to $14 million through five fiscal years.

“Sales taxes are a bright spot for Wyoming revenue,” Richards said. “In the past year, mining sales and use tax collections have increased by 47 percent.”

Across all sectors and all counties, sales and use tax collections are running 17 to 20 percent over last year’s collection.

“We certainly experienced a strong end of summer and tourist season, and there are significant signs of increased purchasing in mining, oil and gas,” he added, noting it is a positive with recent low level tax collections. “Even with adjustments, though, we are far from the collections of 2015, for example.”

Oil production

Secondly, Richards pointed out an increase in oil production, which benefits the state.

“We revised calendar year 2017 by 4 million barrels of production and continued that increase year-over-year through 2022,” he said. “We ended in 2022 with a 7 million barrel increase of oil over the October forecast.”

Richards commented, “This is a significant increase in our oil forecast, but it is not unwarranted.”

He cited a doubling in the number of rigs in Wyoming compared to a year ago, and the trend of increasing oil production is optimistically expected to increase over the next several years.

Price increase

“We also increased oil prices by five dollars a barrel for calendar year 2018 to $50 a barrel,” Richards said

While the estimate is still below the spot market, Richards emphasized they aim to forecast a year-long average, so the estimate will be both above and below that estimate throughout the year.

“The CREG committee attempts to forecast and annual average, not a particular day’s price,” he emphasized.

Other changes

Richards also said CREG added money in the form of administrative changes, as well.

“We added a non-trivial amount of money – $15 million – in state fee lease and bonus revenue,” he explained. “The state had three state land lease auctions in July, October and November, two of which generated significant bonus bids.”

At only five months into the biennium, Richards added total revenue exceeded fiscal year estimates by $3 million.

“As a result, we increased the estimate from $28 million to $43 million for this fiscal year only,” Richards said, adding one additional state land lease auction will be held in March. “We are optimistic some of the parcels will also generate generous bonus bids.”

The $43 million target, Richards said, is “very achievable” for the state.

Additionally, a marginal $9,756 was added to the account to right-size actual coal lease bonus funds from the federal government.

“A similar item is our last revision with respect to other funds deposited in the general fund, and this comes in the form of lease revenue for state agencies,” Richards added. “Our October estimate was $11 million per biennium, and we adjusted that to $11.5 million.”

Historical funds justified the $500,000 increase, which aligns with the Governor’s recommendation to take funds from the General Fund budget and move it into special revenue.

Bottom line

“What does this all mean in terms of the bottom line?” asked Richards. “After we take the individual ingredients to the CREG model and go through distribution, we benefit from two underlying fundamental changes in the outlook.”

First, an upward revision in oil prices provides optimism, despite a reduction in oil prices from $52 to $50 a barrel to reconcile with futures markets in 2021-22.

“Generally speaking, these were all upwards revisions that benefit the state,” he said.

A doubling effect is seen in the upwards revision, since the changes are made for 2018, the current budget year, as well as the upcoming biennium, 2019-20.

“Even a $10 million annual change will be tripled to $30 million as it is replicated in three fiscal years,” Richards said.

Secondly, there are three distributions of the funding – the General Fund, the Budget Reserve Account and in a one percent severance tax increase.

“In the prior decade, that one percent severance tax would be deposited in the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund,” Richards said. “Under legislative action for 2017-18 and the Governor’s recommendation for the 2019-20 biennium, those funds are now available for appropriation.”

Richards commented, “Effectively, we get a triple whammy because we see the effect in three years and in three different accounts.”

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 – “A National Conservation Area is very much a National Park designation in BLM lands,” said Dennis Ellis, government relations advisor with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, during the Sept. 5 meeting of the Wyoming Legislature’s Select Committee on Federal Natural Resource Management. “It walks and talks like a National Park, but rather than putting it in the hands of the National Park Service, it is in BLM lands.”

Ellis, along with Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna, Wyoming Outdoor Council Legislative Advocate Richard Garrett and Fremont County Commissioner Doug Thompson, testified on the various aspects of establishing a National Conservation Area (NCA) in Wyoming.

Conservation values

Garrett started testimony by emphasizing that the Wyoming Outdoor Council sees aesthetic and sentimental value in the Red Desert, marking the passion for Wyoming’s environment.

“The Wyoming Outdoor Council was founded by a gentleman named Tom Bell,” explained Garrett. “He came home to Wyoming after WWII to recover and rejuvenate, and he found solace in the Red Desert.”

“Tom loves open spaces, and I think we all do,” he continued. “Open spaces are one of the most important features that people in the state of Wyoming enjoy.”

Further, Garrett marked the landscape as iconic and worth the conversations started in discussions to establish a NCA.

“We know that we need to reach out to others to expand this conversation, and we are looking forward to doing that,” Garrett commented. “We know we need to work with industry in this conversation. The conversation can only be meaningful if all are included, if ideas and concerns are shared openly and if the rights of all – property rights, leasing rights and grazing rights – are acknowledged and respected.”

When questioned by the legislators on the differences between a NCA and a wilderness area, Garrett explained that NCAs do not close off motorized vehicle traffic and does not preclude the use of existing roads or infrastructure. Additionally, he noted that private properties are not subject to the designation.

“Going forward, there would be no additional construction or leasing available within those lands designated as a NCA,” he continued.

However, there is uncertainty about whether current grazing leases would be renewed if they expired after a NCA is designated. 

Legislators in general were uneasy about the uncertainty in the ability to continue multiple use.

Energy opinions

Ellis noted that Anadarko operates largely in the area proposed for the NCA. 

“The proposed boundary areas of this NCA include 2.5 million acres of federal lands. Of that, 225,000 acres of private lands are included,” he said. “It can be problematic when we don’t have access to those lands.”

Ellis further noted that the issues of access can be demonstrated with the experience of Grand Teton National Park, cautioning legislators to utilize past experience in considering the action.

“Seeing a map like this is not unlike seeing a map from the city planner that has a roundabout on top of your house,” he continued of the proposed NCA boundary area. “It is alarming that someone would want to take our property for their purposes.”

When lands are taken using eminent domain, Ellis added, at least owners are compensated at fair market value. With the designation of a NCA, he noted that those private landowners are limited in their opportunities. 

“A NCA designation sterilizes the uses of the lands,” Ellis said. “We are intermingled in the BLM in the manner that what happens on BLM lands happens on our land.”

In addition, the designation limits other uses, such as hunting, which provides further negative effects. 

“It doesn’t allow grazing leases, people cannot go off of established roads, and it doesn’t allow for any mining or alternative energy projects,” Ellis commented. “A quarter of a million acres of private lands are going to be affected.”

Senator Jim Anderson of Douglas mentioned that with recent discoveries of lithium and unlimited energy potential, there is a potential for economic loss and negative impacts to individual companies and the state with the designations.

A livestock view

From the agriculture perspective, Jim Magagna, executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and rancher utilizing Red Desert lands, noted, “We believe we can coexist within and maintain the scenic and historical values with energy development on the Red Desert. They are all compatible when properly done, and we are committed to doing our part.”

For grazers, he commented that the designation would not allow further development of the lands, meaning those with livestock would be unable to utilize the best and latest in grazing science to best utilize the land. 

“Grazing is not what it was 100 years ago. It is more sophisticated,” Magagna explained. “Grazing involves short term duration use, the need to build fences and for water improvement. With a NCA, producers would not be allowed to do what they need to for survival.”

Sheep and cattle producers in the state would be seriously threatened, he added, noting that access concerns in a NCA further exacerbate the negative impacts on agriculture.

Wyoming, he continued, is adept at properly managing lands and has proven its ability to achieve balance.

“We have managed our resources so that today they are the envy of other states and the rest of the world,” Magana said. 

He further asserted, “If we were given greater freedom to manage the resource, even on public lands, and the resources to accomplish that, we would achieve the appropriate balance far better, more easily and in a far less controversial way than the federal government has been able to accomplish.”

“We urge that, because this issue has seen attention from the current administration, the committee and the legislature be vigilant to any decisions made,” Magagna emphasized.

Committee decisions

After hearing from all sides in the debate about establishing Red Desert NCA, the committee decided to draft a letter to Wyoming’s congressional delegation about their concerns.

“We have heard good testimony, and as this moves forward, we ought to be involved,” Senator Eli Bebout of Riverton mentioned. “There are areas that ought to be considered for this designation, but not 1.5 million acres. There are a lot of unknowns as to how grazing leases would go moving forward.”

Representative Tim Stubson of Casper added, “Our letter will recognize that this is a special area, but express the committee’s concerns of additional restriction coming from the federal government and congressional actions.”

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..

Powell – After controversy arose following last year’s change of food safety rules regarding raw milk, the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources committee was charged with investigating statutes regarding raw milk consumption.

At their May 6-7 meeting, they considered a number of topics, with raw milk rules subject to much discussion.

Raw milk discussion

“After meetings last summer around the state, we did add a subsection that allowed for individuals to obtain milk from animals owned by themselves for their family, and the raw milk products can be furnished to members of their family and non-paying guests,” says Wyoming Department of Agriculture Manager of Consumer Health Services Dean Finkenbinder. “We have also had calls from people who want to sell it at farmer’s market’s. We weren’t sure where we stood on that.”

Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Jason Fearneyhough added, “Last year, when Senator Hastert came with his bill to look at retail sales, we decided to needed to look around this issue.”

“This is our first stab at looking at what other states are doing when it comes to retail sales,” he continued. 

Finkenbinder also noted that questions about cow shares and determining ownership of animals also came up several times.

Cow shares

“We are operating under our current rule, which allows for cow shares,” said Fearneyhough. “We have some problems with ownership, however.”

Finkenbinder notes that cow shares are legal in Wyoming, and raw milk may be distributed to shareholders.

“However, our representative in the Attorney General’s Office said that we have no authority to determine ownership – that belongs to the state veterinarian,” said Finkenbinder.

Committee Chairman Representative Mark Semlek commented, “The issues begs the question as to how do we verify and validate what would be a means of determining a share of an animal. If we can’t qualify that, we can’t qualify the integrity of a herd share program.”

Semlek suggested that animals must be owned in a legal partnership, such as a corporation or limited liability corporation (LLC), to address ownership concerns.

Responding to Representative Nathan Winters’ inquiry on how other states handle cow shares, Finkenbinder noted, “Colorado does allow animal shares, and they are supposed to register with the state, but it is my understanding that they haven’t been enforcing the registration.”

“I think a path forward for us should be to look at what other states do, rather than reinventing the wheel,” suggested Winters.

Disease concerns

The concerns in identifying shareholders revolve around the potential for disease outbreak, in the event that one occurs.

“As far as tracking any outbreaks, the state health department has the authority to get that information,” said Finkenbinder.

Rather than tracking corporation or owners, Senator Larry Hicks suggested tracking ownership using brand documentation and tracking animals, rather than people.

“If we have an outbreak, we don’t want to find out who owns the company, but rather we want to track the animals,” he said. “We can do the registering under their brands.”

Utilizing brand data necessitates the cooperation with the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB).

Comments of the public

Jim Magagna, executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association commented, after much discussion of cow shares and ownership, “It seems that we are losing sight of the issue. The issue is the safety of raw milk. In terms of long-term look, consider a program that allows direct sales of raw milk from the producer to the consumer, with adequate labeling a risk, requirements of the producer to keep a log of the sales and focus on the trace back mechanism, rather than the fiction of who owns the cow, which doesn’t have much to do with the safety of the milk.”

“We’ve had numerous discussion on the sale of milk, and we have been resistant to that,” Semlek noted.

After much discussion, WLSB Director Leanne Correll indicated her willingness to cooperate with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture as necessary, and the committee directed the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and WLSB to work with the Wyoming Department of Health to establish recommendations and possible alternatives and report back to the committee.

Joint Ag activities

Along with raw milk rules, the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources committee also heard from a variety of agencies, including the Office of State Lands and Investment, Forestry Department, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, State Engineer’s Office and the Wyoming Livestock Board. 

Member of the Joint Ag committee include Representatives Mark Semlek, Stan Blake, Rita Campbell, John Eklund, Mike Greear, Hans Hunt, Robert McKim, Nathan Winters and Dan Zwonitzer, and Senators Gerald Geis, Ogden Driskill, Fred Emerich, Larry Hicks and Wayne Johnson.

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 – With the 2018 Budget Session of the 64th Wyoming Legislature approximately half-way complete, legislators began to tackle the state’s budget during the week of Feb. 19. 

Legislators convened on President’s Day to begin the task, sorting through hundreds of amendments offered to attempt to crimp state funding and balance the budget. As of Feb. 23, the House of Representatives had offered more than 47 amendments to the bill, 

For Wyomingites in the agriculture industry, a number of bills aside from the budget are of concern. Because this year is a budget session, bills that are not sponsored by a committee require a two-thirds majority vote to be introduced. 

The Legislative Service Office received 194 House Bills, 10 House resolutions, 121 Senate Files and five Senate resolutions for possible introduction.

Feb. 22 marked the last day for bills to be reported out of committee, and Feb. 23 was the last day for bills to be heard in the Committee of the Whole (COW) in their house of origin. 

Additionally, the Wyoming Legislature will take a mid-session recess on Feb. 26 before jumping into the final stretch of the session.

House Bills

Below is a summary of bills that may be of particular interest to those in the ag industry.

HB 1 – Budget Bill – H Passed Second Reading

HB 13 – Municipal Extraterritorial Jurisdiction – Repeal – H COW Passed

HB 14 – Municipal Jurisdiction – H COW Passed

HB 20 – Game and Fish Agreements with Federal Agencies – H Postponed Indefinitely

HB 39 – Wildlife Conservation License Plates – H COW Passed

HB 48 – Cruelty to Animals – Penalties – H Failed Introduction

HB 51 – Reporting of Gross Receipts – H Did Not Consider for Introduction

HB 77 – Instream Flow Consultant – H COW Passed

HB 89 – Feeding Garbage to Swine – H Withdrawn by Sponsor

HB 90 – Country of Origin Recognition – USA Beef – H Placed on General File

HB 91 – Right to Repair Farm Equipment – H Postponed Indefinitely

HB 92 – Beef Checkoff Penalty – Repeal – H Postponed Indefinitely

HB 93 – Speeding Fines Amendments – 2 – H COW Passed

HB 94 – State Lands – Net Gain in Acreage – H Failed Introduction

HB 98 – Real Estate Transfer Tax – H Did Not Consider for Introduction

HB 104 – Wind Energy Production Tax – H Did Not Consider for Introduction

HJ  3 – Federal Single Subject Constitutional Amendment – H Failed Introduction

HJ 4 – State Lands Mineral Royalties Constitutional Amendment – H Failed Introduction

Senate Files

SF 45 – State Fair Board – S COW Passed

SF 47 – Eminent Domain – Wind Energy Collector System – S Failed Introduction

SF 53 – Small Water Projects – H Received for Introduction

SF 55 – Water Development Account III – H Received for Introduction

SF 64 – Appropriation to State Engineer – S Passed COW

SF 67 – Wyoming Public Lands Day – S Passed Second Reading

SF 69 – 2018 Large Project Funding – H Received for Introduction 

Archived audio from the House and Senate are available at wyoleg.gov, as is a current status of all bills received by the Legislative Services Office. 

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..