ICOW business meeting takes up Wyoming Livestock Board’s budget cuts
ICOW Media Chairman
Steve True, executive director of the Wyoming Livestock Board, addressed the business meeting of ICOW. Over the past three years, the Livestock Board’s budget has been cut by 48 percent.
Very few agencies are able to operate on half a budget with steadily increasing costs. One method to help the board do its job and cut expenses is to have producers notify their local brand inspector when they are going to use their range movement permits. He said all producers will be asked to provide proof of ownership.
If all the animals have one brand and were ranch raised, there isn’t a problem. But if there are sick animals or a different brand in the herd, that is where the paperwork will provide proof of ownership and speed up the inspection process considerably.
This will help the livestock board help the producer and will apply to everyone equitably. This will cut the risk up front because there is no funding to chase the crime.
Since Wyoming has no brand investigating enforcement officers now, and since Wyoming sheriff departments are hard pressed to follow up with crimes that move outside their jurisdiction, many cases will be dropped due to lack of funding and manpower.
Last year, over 1,200 head of cattle were returned to their owner in Wyoming after the animals had left the state. This year, as of the first of November, there are over 800 missing cattle. While some animals die without being found and some wander into a neighbor’s pasture, that doesn’t account for the biggest part of that number.
Ranchers need to contact their legislators and let them know that the brand fee increases are not enough to provide the necessary protection for the industry. More funding is desperately needed to cover the basics of livestock crime control. (I questioned my local sheriff shortly after True’s talk. He adamantly concurred that Wyoming sheriff departments need that help as well, and asked ranchers for help obtaining more funding in this area.) ❖