WLSB discusses future directions
Cheyenne – In a facilitated meeting on Jan. 14, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) discussed their mission, goals and the roles of the agency director, board and state veterinarian.
The meeting hosted members of the public and industry groups to collect input from stakeholders on important points to address moving forward.
At then end of the morning, the WLSB wrote a mission statement, which reads, “The mission of the WLSB is to represent and serve the Wyoming livestock industry providing animal health and ownership support.”
In order to accomplish those goals, Board members looked at improving their effectiveness by setting goals and a list of action items.
The WLSB plans to have developed job descriptions for both the WLSB director and the state veterinarian by the middle of March this year, and will continue from there.
Additionally, the WLSB has begun working to develop scheduled meetings with a few action items to accomplish at each to be more productive.
All industry representatives and the WLSB acknowledged that the role of the WLSB in providing education about livestock rules and regulations is critical. Education of WLSB staff, as well as Wyoming’s producers, veterinarians and law enforcement, were marked as particularly important.
“Speaking from the sheep industry perspective, it is important to educate people on the sheep industry rules and regulation that are out there,” commented Wyoming Wool Growers Association board member Gene Hardy.
Brett Moline of Wyoming Farm Bureau added, “Education of producers is one of the most important roles of the WLSB.”
After asking industry groups for their opinions for the direction and role of the WLSB, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Wyoming Farm Bureau and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union all addressed their concerns with the board and provided advice for future direction of the organization.
“We, in the livestock industry, need this board,” commented Jim Wilson of WSGA. “We want to see it succeed. One of the things that we don’t see is a chain of command.”
Wilson noted that over the course of time with the addition of a director of the board, there are a number of changes that have been made for the benefit of the WLSB’s function. However, in establishing the director position, Wilson noted that the role of the position has not been adequate defined.
WSGA also provided a suggested organization chart that would serve to more accurately define the WLSB and its roles in the industry.
“We feel that there should be a Wyoming Livestock Department, with the WLSB set above it,” explained Wilson. “The WLSB would have control over the department, which would house the director, state veterinarian, brand and law enforcement, which would all be under the director. I think it clarifies where everyone stands in the chain of command.”
As a result of the organization chart, Wilson noted that the unique structure of the WLSB would be addressed, as would issues in chain of command.
As a first step, the WLSB passed a motion directing a memo to be distributed to staff that stated, “All staff and personnel issues will be handled by the Director, following all protocols in the Wyoming State Personnel Rules.”
Board members also discussed a motion that would introduce a bill in the 2013 legislative session to create a Livestock Department under the WLSB.
However, the immediate creation of a Livestock Department was cautioned by Rocky Mountain farmer’s Union Government Affairs Specialist Scott Zimmerman when he said, “I would caution about changing the name or doing anything drastic in trying to get something done this session.”
“While the groups present represent producers, there are a lot of producers who are independent and don’t belong to organizations,” Zimmerman continued. “We need to go forward with an education program before we make significant changes.”
Zimmerman added that the worst outcome would be if legislation to incorporate a name change was introduced and failed, saying, “Having legislation batted back would circumvent all of the good efforts we have started.”
Another issue addressed by both the WSGA and the WWGA was the importance of improved communication of the WLSB, both internally and with external industry segments.
Theft was a prime example of insufficient communication, and WWGA Board President Peter John Camino said, “There is no communication between WLSB law enforcement and county sheriffs, and there is no response on theft as a result.”
Industry groups also emphasized the importance of having the WLSB remain autonomous from the Wyoming Governor’s Office.
“Our policy is that the WLSB should be as autonomous as possible from the Governor’s Office,” said Moline. “We want this Board to have the power and to continue to represent producers.”
Zimmerman additionally echoed Moline’s comments, adding, “We want to see this Board remain autonomous. It should be a policy board, not an advisory board.”
“We feel the rules and regulations need to come from the Board,” Zimmerman continued. “Along with serving the producers, you also regulate the producers.”
Zimmerman also added that the Board made great progress in the meeting, saying, “Establishing goals and procedures today is wonderful, and it is long overdue. I like what I see.”
“If we can developed the internal and external communications policies, we feel like we will be moving a long way down the road and introducing tools to help the agency run more smoothly,” commented WLSB President Liz Philp.