Industry input: WLSB meets to garner input
Casper – When the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) scheduled its Dec. 12 meeting, the idea was to meet at a venue where industry members would have the opportunity to come together to provide input and discuss the current issues facing the WLSB.
“We wanted to have an opportunity to hear from the industry,” commented WLSB Director Leanne Correll. “This year, we didn’t have our listening session at the Wyoming State Fair, and we needed a different venue.”
Correll noted that at the 2011 Wyoming State Fair listening session, the board opted to not continue the event because it had “run its course.”
“We decided the Wyoming Natural Resources Rendezvous would be a good venue opportunity,” she said. “We wanted to hear what some of the issues were from the industry perspective. That was our major agenda item.”
“It was refreshing to have industry representatives at our meeting giving us their opinions,” Correll noted.
Input from the Governor
While industry representatives attended the meeting, the WLSB also hosted Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.
“The Governor attending was a monumental event,” said Correll. “No one on the Board or in industry could remember a time when the Governor actually came and sat down, not only to address the board, but to discuss industry issues and have a dialogue.”
Mead also provided some direction for the Board moving into the new year.
“We talked about the challenges and issues that we have, and he opened the door to work together,” said Correll. “He is giving us the opportunity to provide some suggestions for tweaking and more clearly defining roles of the WLSB and the Director, as well as the challenges that he and I deal with.”
Because Correll is responsible for answering to the WLSB, rather than the Governor directly, an additional set of challenges is present, but opened lines of communication will facilitate the groups working together.
“The Governor respects that the WLSB appoints the Director and State Veterinarian,” Correll added. “He also said we need to work together to function more efficiently.”
Yearly, the WLSB is bound to review several sets of rules to ensure compliance with both statutes and rules.
“There are a couple of things we will be looking at as we go into the new year,” said Correll. “We need to make some changes to make sure that rules are in line with what we are doing.”
“We are also going to be looking at those things in rules and in statute that we may not be implementing exactly like it is, and maybe for good reason,” Correll further explained. “The question is, do we need to make modification to some of those rules, or do we need to go back and adapt our strategies?”
“We have deviated from rules in some ways,” she noted. “It wasn’t intentional, but it has happened in some cases.”
Additionally, producers attending the meeting mentioned that building in some flexibility to WLSB rules is also necessary because of the dynamic nature of the industry.
“Industry representatives and producers who talked to us said that we are in such a state that agriculture is more dynamic and more changing than ever,” Correll explained. “Between environmental concerns, public lands grazing and those things that producers need to make their operations work, producers must respond. As an agency, we need to be able to do that as well.”
She also added that as federal regulations and rules change, it is necessary for the WLSB to update their rules to comply.
In state range permits
During the November meeting of the WLSB, the Board passed a Board Order or in state range permits.
“Basically, it was a re-evaluation to take a look at our permits,” explained Correll. “Statute clearly defines the permits as movement from county to county – not multiple counties.”
With leniency granted to the permits during the drought period in the early 2000s, Correll added that the return to statute never occurred. As a result, the Board passed an order to ensure county to county movement.
However, one word in the order – the word “single” – created confusion in interpretation.
“There were concerns from producers who thought it meant a single location in a county,” explained Correll. “The clarification was important to the industry, so we amended the Board Order.”
The WLSB rules regarding in state range permits will also be up for review in 2013, allowing the public to comment on the rules.
Correll also addressed priorities for 2013, which include defining the roles of the Board and computerization.
“Our number one priority in 2013 is still computerization,” commented Correll. “We don’t know how much time that will take, but we are working toward being fully computerized.”
As another top priority, Correll defined addressing the Governor’s directions as top concern.
“The Governor gave us the direction that we need to more clearly define the roles of the Director and Board,” Correll said. “He said the Board should be over policy, and give the Director direction on how to implement policy.”
She further added that Mead indicated the main function of the Board should be over policy development for the state’s livestock industry.
“We are really going to focus our efforts this year on work with and strengthening our relationship with industry and the Governor’s office,” Correll added.