WLSB hears brand program concernsWritten by Saige Albert
“The reason this was brought to light is because we may have some issues in the brand recording and issuance program,” said WLSB President Eric Barlow. “Producers have concerns with how the policies are being implemented and dealt with.”
Every 10 years owners must renew their brands with the WLSB, and notices are sent to the owners through the mail. However, Jim and Roxie Dacar never received a notice, as both copies were returned to the WLSB marked “insufficient address.” As a result, their long-standing family brand was abandoned March 1, 2011, and soon after it was purchased by a WLSB employee.
“In the last six years, the abandoned brand issue has been around and there have been some concerns,” said Barlow. “Maybe we didn’t realize it was as big of an issue as it is, and I think now we realize the problem’s there.”
State Brand Commissioner Lee Romsa said statutes require that notices be sent 60 days prior to brand’s expiration, but the WLSB chooses to start earlier, in October. Additionally, 60 days after expiration the brand is declared abandoned.
Barlow added, “There is a 10-month grace period. The brand can’t be abandoned and sold until the year after.”
Additionally, brand statues and WLSB Chapter 21 rules provide an outline for measures to be taken if brand renewal notices are returned by the U.S. Postal Service.
Jim Dacar mentioned that, with a simple phone call, his family would have been aware that their brand was expiring and could have avoided the current situation.
WLSB Director Leanne Stevenson noted that a primary concern of the Dacar family will be addressed when computerization is fully implemented and technologies are updated.
Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna posed that the WLSB should attempt to use more updated technology, rather than the postal system, for sending out such notices, including email or by phone.
“It would be very easy to send out a broadcast email saying ‘You will be receiving a brand renewal notice,’” said Magagna. “I also see no opportunity to renew brands on the internet using a credit card, and that ought to be built into this program as well.”
“Our computerization will give us more access online to whatever kind of databases are available that we can build into that new system,” commented Barlow.
“The office had our correct address as far back as 2006,” said Jim Dacar, explaining they had received correspondence from the WLSB to the correct address. “Why wasn’t it on our brand?”
Oversight and auditing
Dacar also raised concern with how the WLSB reviews information, noting that the brand had been used and G-forms, with the correct address, were sent to the office multiple times after their brand had been sold.
“What do you do with the G-forms?” asked Dacar. “We sold livestock 12 times in 2011 with the correct address on the South Dakota forms, and six times after our brand was purchased, not knowing that we no longer owned the muleshoe brand.”
Senator Ogden Driskill, who was contacted by the Dacar family, said, “It is pretty obvious that things are not being crosschecked on addresses, and it needs to be dealt with administratively.”
Driskill added, “Brand abandonment should be made public knowledge. The way it is right now it is almost a secret. If it would have been made more public prior to the abandonment, it would have been better.”
Romsa noted that G-forms are supposed to be checked by the district supervisors against the brand book, and, in this case, the employee made the assumption that the brand was renewed.
“At the Cheyenne office, we pick one district a year to go through audits, but forms are supposed to go through the district supervisors,” added Romsa. “Brand inspectors are also supposed to work their books monthly.”
“The only time we ever got any response is when we contacted two board members and our Senator, who responded to the issues and tried to help us in the right direction,” said Dacar. “All of this comes back to the board.”
Dacar added that, with surveillance of paper work by competent office staff, much of his family’s situation could have been avoided.
To address some of the concerns of the Dacar family and correct some of the potential problems with the brand program, Romsa outlined a series of changes to statutes and WLSB rules proposed by WLSB staff members and as a result of comments received.
“Brands must be recorded within 60 days of expiration,” says Romsa. “If that doesn’t happen, it will be declared abandoned.”
One change includes the addition of language that requires a letter be sent to brand owners who have not renewed their brand by March 1, notifying them of the law and that is has been abandoned. Clarifying language is also included in the changes.
“We will continue to work on developing policy in conjunction with the industry to work on problems that may be pointed out,” commented Barlow. “It is my hope that we can come to some kind of understanding and ask for your assistance in fixing the problems.”
The Dacars’ dilemma
Jim and Roxie Dacar unknowingly abandoned their brand in 2011 when they didn’t receive notices that it was about to expire. The Dacars acknowledge that the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) has their correct address, as is evidenced by correspondence received by the family as far back as 2006, as well as information provided on G-forms, which are required for out-of-state sales.
After the March 1 abandonment of their brand, the brand was purchased the following August.
“When we sold cattle on Jan. 6, 2012, we first learned about no longer owning the Muleshoe Ranch brand,” said Jim Dacar at the April 24 WLSB meeting.
The Dacars made multiple attempts to recover the brand, including an offer of $5,000, and ultimately purchased the muleshoe brand from the buyer for $10,000.
The Dacar family presented the WLSB with a bill for the cost of recovering their brand, and the board will take the issue under consideration at a later date.