Senate kills Brand Board bill for livestock changesPIERRE — The state Senate decided unanimously Tuesday against allowing several changes in the livestock ownership inspections conducted in western South Dakota.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — The state Senate decided Tuesday against allowing several changes in the livestock ownership inspections conducted in western South Dakota.
The state Brand Board wanted to eliminate ownership inspections for horses and mules.
The Brand Board also wanted to start charging an extra fee for ownership checks known as local inspections.
They are done by request at locations in the field, such as at an individual ranch.
The ownership inspections are required on cattle, horses and mules west of the Missouri River. The Daugaard administration supported both proposals.
The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, however, opposed them. The stockgrowers previously ran the ownership inspection program for the Brand Board.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 35-0 to kill the local-inspections fee, which could have been up to $25, and 34-1 to stop elimination of the horse and mule inspections.
Sen. Shantel Krebs, R-Renner, said afterward that the next step will be up to the Brand Board, whose members last June set the standard inspection fee at 90 cents per head.
Krebs said the Brand Board can consider how much needs to be raised through an increase in the fee.
Horse and mule inspections cost on average about $2 per head, and local inspections typically cost more than the 90 cents fee covers.
Krebs said senators heard in recent days from many horse owners who said their valuable animals would be better protected if the brand inspections remain in effect.
“We recognized we needed to listen to them,” she said.
The stockgrowers initially supported a local-inspection fee last year. But the organization’s directors changed their position last fall to instead favor an additional 5 cents per head for all inspections.
Stockgrowers lobbyist Jeremiah Murphy testified last week that an additional 5 cents should more than offset the deficits in the horse and mule program and pay for the additional expenses in local inspections.
Murphy said after the votes Tuesday his members were happy with the Senate’s decisions.
“We support payments to brand inspectors for small local inspections and we want to keep horse inspections in place,” he said. “Today’s action sets up the process to determine the financial needs of the Brand Board not covered by current fees and so determine the brand fee required to cover those needs.”