Governor to Brand Board: Don’t hike feePanel will meet Friday to discuss inspection cost.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — Just weeks after the state Brand Board decided to raise the livestock inspection fee to one dollar per head, Gov. Dennis Daugaard prefers that the board reconsider its decision.
The board, whose members are appointed by the governor, is scheduled to meet Friday morning by teleconference to consider withdrawing the increase and keeping the fee at 80 cents.
Daugaard’s chief of staff, Dusty Johnson, said a strong argument can be made that additional 20 cents is necessary for the brand-inspection program’s budget but, he said, it’s important to the governor to build consensus.
Johnson said leaders from the Brand Board, the state Department of Agriculture and the governor’s office met in Rapid City last week with leaders of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.
“They met for several hours, discussing various approaches for meeting the Brand Board’s budget needs,” Johnson said.
“The meeting was productive, and the governor is hopeful the fee proposal will be set aside as the Brand Board works with the Stockgrowers, the Livestock Auction Market Association and the South Dakota Cattlemen to explore the next steps.”
The Brand Board has authority under state law to charge a maximum of $1 per head for checking brands on cattle, horses and mule in the inspection zone, comprised of 22 counties west of the Missouri River.
The purpose is to deter theft. The inspections typically take place at sale barns or when livestock are being moved out of the inspection zone, slaughtered or transferred by private sale. The teleconference meeting Friday starts at 10 a.m. Members of the public can attend and listen at the Brand Board office at 209 W. Dakota Ave. in Pierre, or at the Stockgrowers office at 426 St. Joseph St. in Rapid City.
The Stockgrowers ran the program for decades under a state contract, until the state board voted to take over its operation a few years ago, during the administration of Gov. Mike Rounds.
The fee has been 80 cents since a five-cent increase was adopted in 2006.
An average of 1,440,000 head of livestock per year received inspections in the past five years, according to the state brand office. A 10-cent increase in the fee would produce an additional estimated $144,000 annually, while a 20-cent increase would generate an additional estimated $288,000.
The agenda for Friday’s meeting lists the withdrawal of the increase as the only item of business.
“The board is meeting to consider it, but nothing is set in stone,” said Larry Stearns, the Brand Board’s director.
Johnson said the governor’s office was aware of the possible increase prior to the March 27 board meeting and public hearing when the $1 amount was adopted.