SD legislative panel OKs livestock fee boostThe inspection fee will increase from 80 cents to 90 cents per head in September, while a legislative committee also will take a closer look at the Brand Board's books.
By: Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press
PIERRE — A legislative committee on Tuesday approved a state board’s compromise plan to raise the fee for brand inspections that are designed to prevent the theft of cattle and horses in western South Dakota.
The 3-1 vote by the Rules Review Committee allows the state Brand Board to increase the current 80-cent inspection fee to 90 cents a head on Sept. 1, a move expected to keep the brand inspection program in the black for at least three years. The committee’s approval is needed before state agencies’ rules can take effect.
However, the lawmakers also recommended that another legislative panel, the Government Operations and Audit Committee, take a detailed look into the Brand Board’s financial situation and record keeping.
After two ranchers said they opposed the fee increase because of discrepancies in reports filed by the Brand Board, Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, said he wants officials to develop financial numbers everyone can agree are accurate.
Disagreements have festered since the state board took over inspections in 2008 from the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, which previously had conducted the inspections on contract.
“I just want to put this to rest,” Vehle said.
The Brand Board voted in March to increase the inspection fee to $1, but the panel withdrew that plan when Gov. Dennis Daugaard urged the board to seek a compromise after livestock groups and other agricultural associations objected.
The board voted in late June to raise the fee to 90 cents after the compromise 10-cent fee increase was supported by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Farmers Union and the South Dakota Livestock Marketing Association.
The program inspects the brands on about 1.5 million head of livestock each year when cattle or horses are sold, slaughtered or moved out of the inspection area, which covers all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River.
Most of the inspections are at local sale barns, but some are conducted at ranches for private sales or when livestock is shipped elsewhere.