After legislation was blocked, Brand Board seeks higher fees

Farm Forum

PIERRE – The state Brand Board wants to raise the fee for ownership inspections to $1 per head for cattle, horses and mules in western South Dakota.

That is the maximum amount allowed under state law.

The fee currently is 90 cents. The board raised it last year from 80 cents. That increase took effect Sept. 1.

The board also proposes doubling the lifetime horse transportation permit to $20.

A March 22 public hearing will be in Pierre on both increases. The 1 p.m. CT meeting will be in the Matthew Training Center wing of the Foss Building across from the state Capitol.

The proposals come in the wake of the Legislature rejecting two pieces of Brand Board legislation.

One would have allowed a special $25 fee to be levied for local livestock ownership inspections, in addition to the 90-cent fee per head and a mileage fee.

The other would have eliminated ownership inspections for horses and mules.

The board is attempting expenses and revenues into line. The local inspections and the horse and mule inspections typically cost more than they generate in fees.

The board doesn’t know what to expect this year for cattle numbers after the drought last summer and fall and the uncertainty about range conditions heading into this spring.

Board member Curt Mortenson of Fort Pierre proposed the two increases that will be considered at the March 22 hearing.

When the increases, if approved, would take effect isn’t certain, according to Brand Board executive director Larry Stearns.

They would need final clearance from the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee.

Stearns said he assumes July 1 would be the effective date.

“That will be determined in the hearing,” he said.

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, which previously ran the ownership inspections program for the Brand Board under a state contract, opposed the two pieces of Brand Board legislation.

The Stockgrowers initially supported a local-inspections fee but later changed positions and advocated a 5-cent increase in the general inspection fee to 95 cents.

The Stockgrowers told legislators that a 5-cent increase would cover the shortfall in local inspections and the deficit in horse and mule inspections.

The address for the public hearing is 523 E. Capitol Ave. in Pierre. The board will accept written comments by mail received no later than March 20. The address for sending written comments is Brand Board, 209 W. Dakota Ave., Pierre, SD, 57501.