WLSB discusses traceabilityWritten by Christy Martinez
WLSB Director Leanne Stevenson noted that the two biggest bills for the 2012 Budget Session that directly impact the state agency are HB0007 and SF0018, Reimbursement for Livestock.
“It’s only a 20-day session, so things will happen fast and furious, but those two will be our main focus to watch and keep track of,” said Stevenson, noting that appropriations accompany both of them.
During the meeting, members of the Board discussed the pros and cons of HB0007, and whether or not to support the bill, a decision that had been put off from last fall’s meeting.
Some members of the Board expressed concern over the word “required” on Page 4 of the bill, in a sentence that reads: The Wyoming Livestock Board shall promulgate rules and regulations of the Wyoming livestock identification and traceability program, including the types of identification and tracing devices that are acceptable for use, the categories and species of livestock “required” to be identified or traced, acceptable conditions for replacement of approved identification devices by the livestock producers and other information as determined necessary by the Wyoming livestock board to protect and promote the Wyoming livestock industry.
Speaking of the use of the word “required” within the bill, Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan said, “It’s important we keep it in context. In that section we’re talking about the WLSB promulgating rules that would have certain requirements. We already do have certain required ID, such as scrapie ID and ID on all sexually intact females 12 months of age and older, as well as DSA (Designated Surveillance Area) requirements. It’s important to keep in mind that the Board, in this context of that line, would be required to promulgate rules, and we would end up with some required ID, but also ample opportunity for public comment.”
Funding the program
Board member Albert Sommers of Sublette County said he supported the bill, minus that instance of the word “required.” He also said he’s not convinced the WLSB needs $315,000 to implement the program.
“I think that’s an awful lot of money to ask the Legislature for in a year when they’re trying to cut the budgets,” he commented.
“We already have several voluntary programs in use, and some of them are already funded by the state,” said Board member Donna Baldwin Hunt of Newcastle, who doesn’t support HB0007. “A traceability bill at this time is a foot in the door to add regulations that won’t be funded later down the road.”
Logan said the appropriation would be used to purchase tags, and that the funding would be for the biennium.
“We would use the funding to purchase tags for Wyoming producers to help facilitate marketability when it comes to interstate movement of cattle,” explained Logan. “A small percentage of the funding would also go to information technology, such as computerization and perhaps some readers for the RFID tags. Very little would be used for administration.”
Stevenson said that, in her opinion, the appropriation could be cut to zero and a program to benefit producers could still be implemented.
“The WLSB provides a customer service to Wyoming’s producers, and we need to be as efficient as possible,” she said. “If this is voluntary, we are not efficiently providing that service to meet the requirements imposed by other states. We don’t want this to be mandatory, but it may be out of our hands, and I want to position our agency to provide the best customer service that we can.”
Today’s traceability reality
Stevenson said that USDA expects to have a final rule on animal disease traceability by late summer.
“In our search for computerization and moving forward as an agency, we need to think about how we’ll address that rule,” she said. “Whether it’s through a legislative voluntary program, or internally as an agency, we need to provide that customer service.”
“I think traceability is already here,” said WLSB President Eric Barlow of Gillette. “People participate at different levels, and for different reasons – some are mandatory in the DSA, and some voluntary. I think there will continue to be an interest and a need to position ourselves to serve our industry.”
Barlow said one thing he doesn’t like about the bill is that it requires another set of rules.
“That process is time consuming, and we’d be starting from scratch, but I’m in favor of the bill conceptually,” he said.
Following discussion, the Board voted to support HB0007 as written, with the word “required” and the $315,000 appropriation intact.
Livestock indemnity introduced
Senate File 0018, Reimbursement for Livestock, is a bill sponsored by the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Interim Committee and introduced to the Senate on Feb. 13.
The bill contains an appropriation of $500,000 from the General Fund to the proposed Animal Reimbursement Program Account created in the bill.
The appropriation would be used to reimburse livestock owners for the fair market value of animals removed for disease control and/or diagnostic evaluation, and market value would be determined either by appraisal or average pricing for like animals at Wyoming sale barns during the week the animal is removed.
The payment would be calculated based on fair market value minus salvage value and any indemnity payment made by the federal government. In addition, the owner would be paid documented transportation and disposal costs of getting the animal to market, slaughter or disposal (landfill, burial, etc.).
Expenditures will depend on the number of disease cases requiring quarantine and removal of livestock. The bill’s estimate reflects expenditures to reimburse livestock owners of $100,000 per year as a best guess. Under extreme circumstances, it is possible that the entire $500,000 appropriation could be expended in one year.
Livestock ID moves forward
As of Feb. 13, House Bill 0007, or the Voluntary Livestock Identification Program, which came out of the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Interim Committee, had been introduced to the House.
The bill repeals provisions for participation in a national livestock identification program, establishes a Wyoming livestock identification and traceability program, authorizes rulemaking and provides an appropriation and an effective date – July 1, 2012.
The bill requests a $315,000 appropriation to initiate the program during the first year (FY 2013) of the biennium, and it would be used to purchase and manage the distribution and tracking of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for cattle vaccinated for brucellosis and metal tags for feeder livestock. According to the bill’s fiscal note, the WLSB will encourage producers to utilize the RFID tags after brucellosis vaccination instead of the current metal tags.
The appropriation would also allow for the initial purchase and setup of information technology hardware and software for WLSB veterinarians and a limited number of brand inspectors to help facilitate data collection during disease testing and marketing. The funds may also be used for staff training on the use of purchased technologies.
The WSLB will work to initially purchase in bulk 194,275 tags, at approximately $1.40 per tag, which would be dispensed throughout the biennium (2013–2014) as needed to implement the program.