MDOL proposes brand fee increase
In an effort to keep pace with operational costs, the Montana Department of Livestock is proposing to increase brand fees and implement a graduated fee for grazing permits. The proposal will be considered by the Board of Livestock at its next meeting, Sept. 21-22 in Room 152 of the Capital Building in Helena.
Brands Enforcement Division administrator John Grainger said the fee proposal is driven by need.
“The price of gas and diesel have more than doubled since the last time we increased brand fees, and with the new state pay plan, our personnel costs are also significantly higher,” Grainger said. “We looked at our budget from a lot of different angles, but we kept coming back to the same place – to continue providing the same level of services, we have to bring more money in.”
The proposal would increase rerecord fees, which are assessed every 10 years, from $100 to $150, new brand application fees from $100 to $250, and duplicate brand fees from $5 to $10. The $100 fee for ornamental brands would remain unchanged.
The proposal would also implement a graduated fee for grazing permits, which are now $10 regardless of the number of livestock grazed. The proposed fee is $10 for 1-19 head, $15 for 20-100 head, $20 for 101-199 head, $30 for 200-299 head, $40 for 300-399 head, $50 for 400-499 head, and $75 for 500 or more head.
Overall, the brand fees and grazing permit proposals are expected to generate in excess of an additional $2 million in revenues for the department.
In a move not directly related to revenues, the department is also proposing to eliminate seasonal brands, which allow livestock to be moved into the state for 6-month periods of time. Grainger said elimination of seasonal brands is intended to protect in-state producers.
“If you want to run cattle in Montana, it’s only fair that you have a full Montana brand,” Grainger said.
Also on the agenda for the Sept. 22-23 meeting is the board’s annual evaluation of the department’s per capita fees, which were last adjusted in 2006. Authorized by Montana Code Annotated 15-24-921, per capita fees are assessed on “all poultry and bees, all swine three months of age or older, and all other livestock nine months of age or older.” The fees generated $3.7 million, or roughly a third of the department’s overall budget, in FY 2008.
Approximately 75 percent of the department’s legislatively authorized budget is funded with state special revenues – funds paid by the livestock industry, such as brand fees, inspection fees and per capita fees – with the remainder derived from federal funds (13 percent) and state general funds (12 percent). In addition to the per capita fee, other state special revenues are derived from inspection and control fees, such as brand enforcement revenues, animal health fees, lab testing fees and milk inspection fees.