Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

SD Brand Board ponders doubling inspection fees

Joshua Haiar / South Dakota Searchlight
Approximately 1.5 million head of livestock are inspected for ownership annually within the Livestock Ownership Inspection Area (West of Missouri River) in South Dakota.

PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSA) is voicing its opposition to the prospect of doubling brand inspection fees – a move being floated by the South Dakota Brand Board.

Ranchers in western South Dakota currently pay a dollar per head for state-required inspections when their cattle are sold or leave the area. The South Dakota Brand Board is discussing whether to ask state lawmakers for permission to charge more.

According to a KELO news story, board members talked by teleconference this week about whether to seek up to two dollars. Currently, inspections are costing $1.18 per head on average, eighteen cents more than the inspection fee brings in.

The board also is looking at requesting a service fee of some amount for inspections of single animals or small groups, where the inspection fee itself isn’t sufficient to cover the inspector’s time for traveling to a site.

The proposals could be made to the 2024 Legislature that opens session January 9. At this point, the board hasn’t identified any sponsors.

The board’s executive director Debbie Trapp, told KELO that legislative approval of a higher cap wouldn’t mean that the fee itself would rise by that much. She said the board would still need to propose a change to administrative rule and hold a public hearing.

The cap last was increased to one dollar in 2008, the year that the Brand Board took over management of ownership inspections from the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. The board raised the actual fee to one dollar through a rule change in 2013.

A panel of 16 legislators met with Brand Board president Scott Vance of Faith, S.D., and Trapp during the Stockgrowers annual convention that was held October 3-4 in Rapid City.

Stockgrowers executive director Doris Lauing told KELO  that the Stockgrowers are “totally opposed” to lawmakers passing the $2 inspection fee but would be willing to accept an inspection fee of $1.25.

The board recently announced it has shifted to a system of three district supervisors overseeing inspectors. Earlier in the spring of 2023, stockgrower members voiced concerns over several issues related to the administration of the state’s brand inspection program.  The naming of district supervisors is hoped to alleviate those concerns.



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Margaret Sumption was recognized by SDFU for her service to rural youth as a volunteer, with the esteemed Minnie Lovinger Award. Sumption is pictured here with Aeriel Eitreim (left) Senior Advisory Council member from Sioux Falls and Cadence Konechne, (right) Jr. Junior Advisory Council member from Kimball.


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