Rule making process - WLSB considers rule changes, updatesWritten by Saige Albert
Casper – During their meeting on Nov. 30, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) considered an agenda that included discussion on three chapters of rules that went out for public comment.
“The staff has been working on updating our rules, which is all part of the Governor’s Rules Initiative from two years ago,” said Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan. “We’ve been making updated revisions on Chapter Eight and Chapter 14, but the rules for Chapter Two, Chapter 13 and Chapter 15 went out for public comment, which ended on Sept. 4.”
Chapter Two rules, titled, “Vaccination Against and Surveillance for Brucellosis,” were passed by the Board with only minor changes to reflect official USDA Animal and Plant Health Identification Service information.
The WLSB also reviewed Chapter 13 “Scrapie Prevention and Management Rules,” ultimately deciding to make several substantive comments related to goats and send the rules back out for comment.
“I suggest that we add Caprine, which are goats,” Logan said. “The federal rule adds Caprine, so I suggest we add that and delete the exemption for goats.”
Because the change would be substantial, the rules will go back out for public comment, but the Board opted to wait until after Dec. 9, when the federal rule is released, to ensure no other changes would be necessary for compliance with the federal rule.
The Chapter 15 rule, “Trichomoniasis Rules,” also will be re-released for public comment after the Board made the decision to make changes that would allow pooling and to remove “culture test” from the definition section.
The Board opted to include pooling of samples for trichomoniasis to alleviate costs for producers while still maintaining sampling integrity.
“Pooling is taking samples from more than one animal and sending them to the lab for testing together,” Logan explained. “Usually we are talking about a finite number of samples, no more than 10, from one herd, and they can be run together.”
While pooling samples can miss three percent of animals positive for trichomoniasis, the cost and import considerations were considered by the Board as significant.
“At the Wyoming State Vet Lab, a culture test is eight dollars or six dollars for three or more,” said Logan. “PCR tests are $30 per sample or $25 for more than 10. The culture test is always less expensive.”
“I don’t think we are putting the industry at risk where we allow pooling,” Logan said, noting that herds that are in quarantine for trichomoniasis will not be allowed to pool samples.
It was also noted that surrounding states allow pooling of samples, which has created import challenges for some producers.
WLSB will send the rules for Chapter 13 and 15 back out for public comment after the changes are made, to be finalized at a later date.
Wyoming Livestock Board receives updates, votes on rule renewalWritten by Saige Albert
With Chapter 22 rules governing livestock dealers and order buyers scheduled to sunset, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) voted unanimously to renew the legislation and received several updates during a Jan. 11 teleconference meeting.
“The Legislative Services Office made me aware that the statute sunsets on June 30, 2016,” says WLSB Director Steve True. “The rules were brought in the General Session in 2005, and they were rejected on third reading. The bill unanimously passed in the 2006 Budget Session.”
Specifically, Wyoming Statute 11-22-118 is set to be repealed by Laws 2006 Chapter 27 Section One as of June 30. The statute requires livestock dealers to register with the WLSB and maintain records.
Board members inquired as to why a sunset date was included in the legislation, and the answer was unclear. However, Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan noted that the provisions enable disease traceability.
“The primary reason for the statute was to enable disease traces,” Logan explained. “This law increases our ability to trace those livestock that have been accumulated by dealers through numerous sources, commingled and then dispersed to other numerous sources.”
The provision was renewed by a unanimous vote.
During the meeting, the WLSB also received a brief update on joint efforts with the tribes. During the May meeting of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Wildlife Resources, the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes inquired as to systems to institute brand inspection and livestock theft enforcement.
“During the Tribal Relations Committee meeting, we were asked to present our take on earlier meetings,” True explained. “Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker, Dr. Logan and I recommended that we don’t document anything or write any letters until the Tribal Councils come to a resolution.”
There has been no progress in the effort recently.
Logan also updated the Board on several pending brucellosis cases in the state. Two cattle herds, one in Park County and one in Sublette County, were identified as positive for brucellosis in late 2015.
“All four contact herds in Park County and Sublette County have been tested, are negative and have been released from quarantine,” Logan explained.
The first whole-herd test on the Sublette County herd has been conducted, and results are pending. In addition, the Park County herd will be tested for a second time next week.
The WLSB is also planning to release Chapters 13 and 15 of their rules for public comment a second time soon. Following the close of public comments, the Board will meet to make a final decision on the rules.
Livestock Board discusses proposed livestock health changes and other itemsWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Douglas – The Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) held a board meeting in Douglas on June 29-30, inviting public attendance on the second day.
Agenda items included updates from Director Steve True, brand inspection and recording updates from Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa and updates to proposed health rules from State Veterinarian Jim Logan.
True began his update addressing a meeting with the legislative tribal relations committee, noting, “Tribal ranchers gave presentations of the problems they feel they face with possible rustling and missing livestock.”
The WLSB recommended a parallel and stand-alone program within the reservation for brand inspection and law enforcement with reciprocity to Wyoming brand statues and rules.
“We did not ask them at this time to accept in total our rules and regulations, but we need to be able to work from the same basis,” True explained.
Tribal representatives seemed receptive to the suggestions from the Board.
Next, True informed the Board, “We have received our budget instructions for the Governor’s office for the next biennium.”
Governor Mead suggested that the budget be reviewed for reductions and maximum efficiency with a minimum of exception requests.
“In house, we have begun our budget process,” True noted, adding that the final budget will be due in the fall.
Continuing his update, he stated, “The Governor also thanked and named all of the agencies that were involved in emergency actions at Lusk during the flood.”
Further, True recognized the teamwork between agencies as well as the efficient work of the Department of Transportation in opening roads after the flood.
“The community of Lusk came together, and that is quite a community. It’s already looking a lot better, and they did most of that without aid from agencies,” added Board Member Donna Hunt.
Following the director’s updates, Romsa provided information about brands that are up for renewal.
“We still have 1,180 brands that are delinquent,” he noted.
He also mentioned that the delinquent program appears to be working well, giving brand owners a chance to renew their brands before they are moved to an abandoned status.
“As a reminder, they have until the end of the year to pick up those delinquent brands before they go to the abandoned list,” stated Romsa.
He also commented on the repairs being made to trouble spots in the online brand renewal system and suggested a pay raise for brand inspectors.
“I think it’s important. Our top candidates all turned us down because we couldn’t be competitive on salary,” Romsa said of recent recruitment efforts for new brand inspectors.
Following brand updates, Logan spoke, bringing attention to a recent meeting in Jackson on June 11 concerning Bighorn sheep regulations.
“Not only should the sheep industry pay close attention to this issue, but the cattle industry should be paying very close attention to it as well. As the sheep industry eventually goes with this issue of allotments on Forest Service land, I think the cattle industry eventually will follow,” Logan stated.
As the meeting continued, the Board reviewed applications for veterinary loan repayments before moving on to proposed changes in livestock health rules, which were discussed by the Board before being released for public comment.
Beginning with Chapter 2, Logan commented, “These are the brucellosis rules.”
Since the rule began in the year 2000, there have been some minor edits and changes.
“I emailed the Board about some frustrations that I have had, that brand inspectors have had and that producers in the Designated Surveillance Area have had,” Logan said.
Difficulties have been documented in regards to seasonal grazing permit holders who have ignored brucellosis testing requirements. After a lengthy discussion, the Board agreed to take action by providing warnings and denying future permits to producers that fail to meet the agreements in their contracts.
“The other changes are just updates referencing federal rules, and there are some definition changes,” Logan added, discussing the Chapter 2 rule.
Changes to the Chapter 6 rule address payments to veterinarians and sale barns for brucellosis testing, and control measures were also discussed.
“We have run into some situations with the definition of ‘brucellosis area of concern,’ and we also updated current verbiage of category two accredited veterinarian,” Logan continued.
Proposed changes to Chapter 13 rules concern the scrapie.
“This rule has not ever been revised in my recollection. There are some changes to references and citations to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) scrapie terms,” Logan explained.
Changes are intended to simplify and better clarify definitions.
“This rule closely mirrors the APHIS scrapie rules that have been pretty successful and well complied with in Wyoming,” he noted.
Lastly, the Board reviewed the Chapter 15 rules concerning trichomoniasis.
“This was last revised in 2010,” Logan noted. “A lot of what we see in the Chapter 15 rule is an attempt to harmonize where we can with other states, as far as their requirements for trichomoniasis.”
After discussing the changes and applying some edits, the Board approved the release of the proposed rule changes for public comment.
The next WLSB meeting will be held via teleconference in the fall.
WLSB focuses on outreach, enforcementWritten by Saige Albert
As cattle producers across the state prepare for their fall work, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) is making an effort to increase its visibility in the state by increasing its outreach efforts for the agency.
“We are focusing on outreach to both producers and law enforcement agencies, in particular Sheriff’s Offices, to build a network of communication and deter as much theft as we can,” says WLSB Director Steve True.
True notes that the agency’s focus on outreach was spurred, in part, by the direction of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, which met in May in Riverton.
“The interim committee lit the fire in our evaluation process to see where we are effective and where we aren’t. As we complete that evaluation, we have found that, first and foremost, outreach is an area we need to work on,” he adds, mentioning that livestock theft was a particular focus of the conversation.
Inside WLSB enforcement
Currently, the WLSB employs four law enforcement investigators across the state. Each is tasked with covering one-quarter of the state on cases related to theft, animal health violations, brand inspection violations, agency assist calls, animal welfare, roadside checks and reporting.
In the case of livestock theft, the WLSB generally receives notification that cattle are missing. If evidence of theft is present, the case is classified as rustling. Missing livestock cases can be upgraded to rustling if evidence is present.
Since 2004, the number of cases of rustling or missing livestock has primarily hovered in the 50s, with the highest number of cases in 2010 at 67. For 2012, 2013 and 2014, 51, 45 and 52 cases of rustling or missing livestock were reported, respectively.
In 2014-15, the WLSB reports that 351 bovine, three equine and 528 ovine were reported as rustling or missing.
“It should be noted that in cases of missing livestock that are found by the owner, at the neighbors’, came home or were otherwise located, we are very rarely notified that these animals have been found,” True says.
In his first steps toward improving WLSB outreach, True notes that he has begun to open the lines of communication between the agency and sheriffs around the state.
“I have tasked myself with visiting all 23 sheriffs, and I’m getting through that process,” he says, noting that he will have the opportunity to meet with several at once in late September. “I’ll work on building the relationship and opening up a conversation between law enforcement and the WLSB.”
True explains that he would like to establish how the WLSB can work with local law enforcement, as well as what each side can provide to more effectively protect livestock throughout the state.
Additionally, he hopes to draw producers into that conversation to continue to establish relationships between producers and law enforcement to protect livestock.
“The sheriffs I have spoken to so far are enthusiastic in building our relationship,” True says. “They want to use our guys for training.”
In addition, True comments that the WLSB’s enforcement arm is spread thin, and sheriffs across the state understand they are likely to be the first responders in livestock theft cases.
In addition to reaching out to law enforcement, True and the WLSB are also working with producers and producer groups to increase awareness about cattle theft in the state.
“There are a couple of things that producers can do to protect themselves against theft,” True notes. “First, livestock owners should look at their operation as if they were a thief. They should look at their weaknesses.”
For example, he asks producers to consider the location of their shipping pens and whether gates are locked.
“Can someone get in and out without knowing it?” he asks. “Are gates locked? That is inconvenient, but if someone goes to the trouble to cut a chain or a lock, it gives us some evidence.”
In addition, locked gates or pens within sightline of a house may deter thieves.
Anyone interested in more theft-prevention tips or a presentation by the WLSB should contact the agency.
“We are more than willing to present at meetings, visit with groups of producers or visit one-on-one to talk about how to prevent cattle theft,” True comments.
In the case that producers come up with missing livestock, True notes that they shouldn’t hesitate to inform the WLSB or law enforcement.
“If cattle are missing or producers think they are missing, don’t be worried about letting us know early,” he explains. “We understand that someone might think they missed a few or they are at the neighbor’s, but give us a heads up. We can start the process. If the cattle turn up, they can call us back and let us know.”
“There are too many opportunities for cattle to be gone if we don’t know right away,” True adds, mentioning that livestock are more likely to be sold over time.
“The biggest problem in solving theft cases is that livestock are easily sold,” he says. “The brand line is only six or seven hours away, and in some cases, it is closer. Cattle can trade hands three or four times in tow weeks, and at that point, they are difficult to trace.”
After notifying authorities, True notes that producers should attempt to preserve the scene and any evidence that might be present until the sheriff arrives.
True mentions that producers should be diligent in protecting their livestock and take all steps possible to avoid theft.
The WLSB is taking steps to continue to educate producers on the possibility of theft and how to prevent theft.
“With the price of cattle on the hoof and beef in the case, the opportunity and motivation are there for a potential increase in cattle theft activity,” True comments. “Our push is to try to get in front of this.”
Wyo Livestock Board appoints True as new directorWritten by Saige Albert
Cheyenne – On Feb. 24, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) announced their appointment of Steve True as the new director of the agency. True will assume the duties of director on March 9.
“Steve has a great deal of work experience in Wyoming’s livestock industry,” says WLSB President Joe Thomas. “Steve is familiar with the responsibilities and requirements of the agency as he has worked in the private livestock industry sector for years in this state.”
“I’m extremely honored and excited that the WLSB saw fit to appoint me as the new director,” True comments. “I’m really looking forward to working with the Board and professional staff at the WLSB.”
History of cattle
True was born and raised outside of Cheyenne on a cow/calf and stocker operation.
“I’ve been in the cattle business my whole life,” he comments.
True notes that agriculture has been his way of life since he was very young. His passion for the industry has continued throughout his life, and after graduating from Cheyenne East High School, he ventured over the mountain to the University of Wyoming in Laramie for two years.
“I knew that I wanted to go back into ranching, so I stepped away from UW and got a ranching job,” he says. “I started my career on the business-end of agriculture as an individual then. I stepped out from under the umbrella of our family business and went out on my own.”
True has lived and worked throughout the West ever since, including time in California and Colorado.
Along with working on ranches and in feedyards, True also served as a Wyoming brand inspector for five years early in his career.
“I’ve been out on the ground, and I understand what brand inspectors deal with,” he says.
Most recently, True has served as the cattle manager for Dinklage Feedyards in Torrington. In that position, he is responsible for all cattle operations, including animal health requirements, processing, shipping, receiving and administrative control.
He has also worked as the feedyard manager for Panhandle Feeders.
“I’ve spent the last 25 years in the feedlot business,” he explains. “The bulk of that time has been in management at one level or another. I have a lifetime of dealing with and being aware of the issues that confront our industry and our producers.”
Moving to WLSB
After spending the last 25 years in the feedlot business, True says, “I’m really looking forward to this opportunity with the WLSB.”
He notes that over time, he has enjoyed working in the ag industry and is increasingly intrigued with interacting with the public.
“As time has continued and the industry has grown and evolved, I’ve become more interested in how we interact with the public at-large and how our producers provide so many essential items for the world,” True says.
With experience in working with a diverse group of individuals, True hopes to bring his skill set to the WLSB to work toward the common goal of protecting the Wyoming livestock industry.
“My experience in management in the feedyard industry has prepared me to be able to deal with change on a daily basis and to work with staff members on the changes that we face,” he comments. “I believe my experience will help us to work with producers in the livestock industry, as well as the state, to address the issues that we will meet head-on.”
“Steve’s perspective and working knowledge will help the WLSB better serve its customers, and we appreciate his willingness to serve as our director,” Thomas adds.
In stepping into the position of director, True says, “I hope to continue the work that the Board has done and follow the leadership of the Board to address the issues that we face as an industry and as an agency.”