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Government

Legislation pertaining to Wyoming Livestock Board outlined

Written by Jennifer Womack
Cheyenne – Agency Director Jim Schwartz, during the Wyoming Livestock Board’s Jan. 14 meeting, outlined several pieces of legislation of interest to his agency.
    SF8: Schwartz said this piece of legislation, sponsored by the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee (JAC), would allow his agency to address feral livestock. Feral goats on Laramie Peak, feared to be a health threat to that area’s Bighorn sheep population, were one example he offered. He also pointed out that feral swine, known to have caused health problems in other states, have been seen within 20 miles of the Wyoming and Nebraska state line.
    HB17: Eliminating goats, alpacas and llamas from the state’s brand inspection program, this legislation is also sponsored by the JAC. Schwartz said this legislation comes at the request of representatives from the goat, alpaca and llama industries. He also pointed out that the costs associated with inspecting these particular species are outpacing the revenue generated.
    SF32: Adding staff and resources to the agency, Schwartz said this legislation could add five new positions to the WLSB. Originally requesting 10, he said the request was pared back during JAC discussions earlier this year. “We’re trying to protect the animal health in an $850 million industry with four employees working in that area on a full time basis,” said Schwartz. The $920,000 appropriation called for in the legislation would be spent as follows:
•    $420,000 for three full-time field veterinary medical officer positions.
•    $50,000 for vehicles, field office support and expenses.
•    $180,000 for one full-time information technology specialist and one full-time position for a livestock health administrative staff for the Riverton WLSB office.
•    $25,000 for space rental, utilities and maintenance of the Riverton office.
•    $245,000 for a livestock indemnity and emergency reserve account.
    Schwartz said his agency needs to be better prepared to respond to a livestock health emergency.
    HB12: Allowing the WLSB to collect miscellaneous inspection fees, Schwartz explained that this legislation will allow his agency to recapture its expenditures in the event of an automobile accident or other emergency involving livestock. The legislation is being sponsored by the JAC.
    SF36: Also sponsored by the JAC, this legislation would make it illegal to intentionally feed elk. Schwartz said this practice is of great concern as it relates to transmission of the disease brucellosis. He stressed that the legislation does provide protection for those who are carrying out ordinary livestock feeding practices.
    SF10: This legislation, sponsored by the JAC, would allow the WLSB to pay for the spaying of heifers and additional practices to prevent the commingling of cattle and elk. Additional details on this bill, as well as a related piece of legislation (SF31) are discussed in a news article beginning on Page 1 of this edition.
    HB99: Directed at the state’s Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program, this legislation sponsored by Representative Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) would modify one aspect of the program. Statute now requires that a qualifying veterinarian must be a graduate of an accredited veterinary college. That would be changed to “licensed veterinarian.” One of the 2008 applicants for the program, despite being licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the state, was not allowed to participate in the program because he did not graduate from an “accredited college.”
    Heritage Brand Bill: Schwartz said his agency doesn’t support legislation that Representative Sue Wallis (R-Gillette) plans to bring that would create a “heritage brand” program. As described by Schwartz, the legislation would allow those who own a brand, but don’t use it on livestock, to register it as a “heritage brand” for a one-time fee of $150.
    With 30,000 registered brands in the state, Schwartz estimated 9,000 are used on livestock. “It could cost the agency $250,000 every brand renewal period,” said Schwartz.
    “I don’t think there’s a member of the Livestock Board that supports this bill,” said Alcova rancher and WLSB Chairman Phil Marton.
    Western Wyoming brand inspector Gary Zakotnik also spoke out in opposition of the legislation. Zakotnik expressed concern that heritage brands could end up being put on livestock, creating problems for the brand inspection program.
    As of press time the legislation hadn’t appeared on the list of bills for consideration at this year’s session.
    Schwartz said he’s also been made aware that Wallis is bringing a bill that would prohibit the WLSB from entering into any additional cooperative agreements with USDA for purposes of the National Animal Identification System program. Wallis brought similar legislation before the 2008 session of the Wyoming Legislature. Schwartz said such a measure would “hamstring” his agency. “I think we have to have premises I.D. to have a good traceback system. Brands don’t always work.”
    Senators have until Jan. 28 to submit bills to the Legislative Service Office. On the House side, the deadline is Feb. 2. Undoubtedly, additional pieces of legislation that are of importance to the WLSB will be introduced within that time period.
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..