Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Wanted: Livestock Identification Advisory Committee nominations

Jodi Jones
Animal Services

Brand Program Manager Robbie Parke talks with Danny
DeFranco, Washington State Cattlemen's Association
Executive Vice President. 
WSDA is seeking nominations for its Livestock Identification Advisory Committee.

Earlier this month, we took an opportunity to provide information about legislative updates to our Livestock Inspection Program and get the call out for nominations to the newly expanded advisory committee when we met with industry representatives at a meeting in Ellensburg.

In April, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 5959, a new law intended to modernize the program and restore it to financial solvency.

It also expanded the advisory board from six to 12 members. The law requires WSDA’s director to appoint two Livestock Identification Advisory Committee members from each of six industry groups including beef producers, public livestock market owners, horse producers, dairy producers, cattle feeders, and slaughter facility owners. No more than two committee members may reside in the same county.

Most of the bill’s new provisions go into effect on July 28, but there is still some confusion in the livestock community about the details.

"I’m just glad that you are doing this,” said Sen. Judy Warnick, prime sponsor of SB 5959. “I’ve been hearing so many misstatements and misinformation out there, and we put so much work into [the bill], so we have to do whatever it takes to make it happen and dispel some of the misinformation that has been bandied about.”

Warnick said the top two rumors she’s been hearing are:

  • It’s going to cost $20 per head to register your cows. 
  • Dairy farmers are going to have to brand all their cows. 

Both are false.

However, it is true that cattle identification fees are changing.

  • Inspection fees for identified cattle will be $1.21 per head.
  • Inspection fees for unidentified cattle will be $4 per head.
  • Inspection fees for horses are $3.85 per head.
  • Audit fees for certified feedlots is 28 cents per head. 
  • A $20 call-out fee replaces the time and mileage fee and will be collected for all inspections.

And, dairy farmers do not have to brand their cows. They can identify them with electronic official individual identification for $1.21 a head or leave them unbranded/unidentified at the $4 per-cow rate.

A recent WSDA Ag Briefs article outlines all of the new rates.

Animal Services Acting Assistant Director Jodi Jones reviewed the timeline for implementing the proposed rules. She explained that most of the new fees go into effect July 28.  The use of the Electronic Cattle Transaction Reporting (ECTR) program and subsequent licensing fees and the certified veterinarian and field livestock inspector certification fees will require rule changes that will take several months to complete.

The ECTR system will accept credit cards and electronic checks when it becomes available as early as October. However, payment of fees with credit cards in the field will not be possible until a few legal and technical issues are resolved.

The law also expands the field of people authorized to do brand inspections. Trained certified veterinarians or field livestock inspectors dispersed throughout the state will be able to conduct brand inspections. Those certified by the department to conduct brand inspections will be required to collect and remit the fees outlined in the bill to WSDA.

A few Washington brands on the side-
walk outside the Cattlemen's Association.
Inspection training for certified veterinarians and field livestock inspectors will be scheduled in the coming months.

“We don’t want to have any conflicts of interest with those authorized to do brand inspections,” Jones said. “We plan to put some language in the [proposed rules] to make sure we have a sound asset protection program.”

For more information about the Livestock Inspection Program, contact Jodi Jones at (360) 902-1889 or Robbie Parke at (360) 902-1836.