Wyoming Livestock Board works on strategic plan, budget while also handling animal health concernsWritten by Saige Albert
With a constant focus for the future, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) reviewed work that has been done over the past few months, including meeting with tribal organizations, development of a strategic plan and planning for the exception budget requests.
In planning for a busy season, the Board and its staff have worked to prepare for the coming year. The WLSB staff updated Board members on a variety of topics during their Aug. 3 meeting.
Tribal task force
Following direction from Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Interim Committee, WLSB Director Steve True noted that a meeting of the Tribal Task Force was held on July 13 to begin discussion with tribes about establishing a brand inspection and law enforcement program on the Wind River Reservation.
“The position that the WLSB took and visited about at this meeting is that we can’t move forward with a Memorandum of Understanding with the tribes, help in pursuing funding or set up trading protocols until resolutions have been made within the tribal councils,” True said. “Everyone agreed on that.”
Tribal representatives also agreed to download Wyoming brand inspection statutes and rules to begin drafting language to be approved by tribal councils, True continued.
“Then, those would go to the Attorney General to make sure they are reciprocal,” he continued. “At that point, if the tribal councils pass those sets of rules, we can move forward.”
As another point of agreement reached by the Tribal Task Force, the person who may be eventually hired on the Wind River Reservation would have to be a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Officer who would be trained as a Wyoming brand inspector and peace officer, True noted.
“As a BIA officer, that person would close the federal loop of prosecutorial jurisdiction and make it more simple to move forward,” he said.
Ideally, the officer would utilize the same forms as the WLSB and would also store records in Cheyenne, but further details on handling of inspection fees will be negotiated at a later time.
“These discussions will continue going forward,” True said.
WLSB has also been working to develop an updated strategic plan for the agency, and the Board approved the plan at its meeting. The seven-page document looks at the activities of the WLSB throughout the year.
Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan noted, “The state provides a template of what they wanted us to report in our strategic plan, and the staff and Board have to pick out the things that are most reportable that we can also show results and outcomes from.”
As a result, Logan emphasized that the plan doesn’t reflect every action the board undertakes. For example, the strategic plan looks at how WLSB upholds Wyoming’s western heritage and culture by protecting livestock producers.
With only minor changes, the strategic plan was adopted by the Board to be submitted to the Governor’s Office.
As another important administrative task, the WLSB prepared exception budget requests to present to the Wyoming Legislature during its 2016 General Session.
“There are two priority items that have to do with the brand division,” said Wyoming Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa. “One is the raises we discussed at the last Board meeting, and the other is issuing cell phones to brand inspectors.”
During their late-June meeting, Romsa noted that the Board decided to give a five percent raise to full-time brand inspectors and a 10 percent raise to those 18 inspectors who regularly work for livestock sale barns.
“The grand total for that request is $394,681,” he said, also noting that the entirety of the funds would come from the WLSB earmarked account.
True clarified, “The short of it is, we aren’t asking for additional funding, we are just asking for spending authority on the funds we already have.”
The second exemption budget request for the WLSB dealt with providing cell phones to brand inspectors – a move that would provide multiple benefits, according to Romsa.
“The bottom line is everyone uses their cell phones for business whether they are state issued or not,” Romsa said. “The other part is that we have a real connectivity issue with our computerization based on online and offline software programs, even in some places where we have internet.”
Providing cell phones to brand inspectors would ensure that all inspectors would have access to reliable, high-speed wireless internet through a hotspot. The feature is essential to ensuring that data collected by brand inspectors are uploaded wirelessly to the state’s recording system.
“The ongoing monthly data service in each biennium is the biggest chunk of the cost,” Romsa explained, “but with the state rate, we can leverage better deals than inspectors can on their own individual plans.”
Despite concerns about use and loss of devices, as well as the associated costs, the Board passed both budget requests, in addition to a third request which clarifies where federal grant funds related to brucellosis are spent, which will be submitted to Governor Mead in August.
The Board opted to have a meeting prior to the September meeting of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Interim Committee. The date and meeting information will be provided at a later time.
Animal health updates
Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan detailed the recent state of animal health in the state of Wyoming during the Aug. 3 Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) meeting.
“Our biggest issue in the state right now, and in many of the western states, is Vesicular Stomatitis (VS),” Logan said. “The list of states where VS is known to exist includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.”
VS emerged in Wyoming at Cheyenne Frontier Days when a case from a horse in Goshen County was found. Since then, four affected premises in Goshen County have been identified and quarantined.
Cases in Campbell, Lincoln and Platte counties have been investigated and were negative.
All livestock found to be positive for VS will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days from the day symptoms presented. A protocol on sampling has been established in cooperation with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
“We have also prepared some educational materials for livestock owners and exhibitors,” Logan continued. “We have a slightly different handout for veterinarians.”
In an attempt to reduce the risk of spread of VS, the Wyoming State Fair and WLSB are requiring a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection within 14 days of going to state fair on all livestock originating from any county in Wyoming or other states where the disease has been found.
Wyoming Livestock Board and Wyoming Department of Agriculture personnel will be conducting the animal health check-in at the state fair and will also be conducting animal health surveillance on the fair grounds.
For more information, contact Logan at 307-421-1682.