South Dakota Brand Board election bill dies |

South Dakota Brand Board election bill dies

Photo courtesy Clark family

House Bill 1205, which would have created an election system for the South Dakota Brand Board, was tabled to the 41st day, effectively killing the legislation.

The Senate State Affairs Committee tabled the motion at the request of the bill sponsor, Rep. Liz May, District 27, Kyle, South Dakota.

A committee was formed to review complaints and seek solutions.

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, South Dakota Cattlemens Association, South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hunter Roberts, the Brand Board, and some legislators will comprise the committee, said Representative May.

May, a rancher and grocery store owner, said if the problems are not fixed by next year, she will bring another bill, and she will “prevail.”

May said she introduced the bill because she was being bombarded with calls from frustrated ranchers dealing with brand inspection and brand recording issues.

She believes an elected board would be more responsive to those paying the brand inspection fee and brand recording fees. Existing state statute requires the governor to appoint a five-member Brand Board, which is charged with overseeing the brand inspection program, brand recording and theft investigation program.

The Brand Board was criticized in testimony for its staff being unresponsive to concerned ranchers who are not pleased with brand inspection services. Many ranchers said violations are being reported but not investigated, and that holds are not being cleared in a timely manner.

The Brand Board does not currently have a chief brand inspector on staff, although their director, Debbie Trapp, told TSLN in October that the Board was interviewing candidates for the position.

The last chief brand inspector did not have brand inspection experience and members of the Brand Board have said they will consider hiring someone again who does not have brand inspection experience.

The South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets and the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association testified in favor of the bill, along with several ranchers. The South Dakota Cattlemens and South Dakota Farm Bureau opposed the bill, along with the South Dakota Department of Ag and Natural Resources.

The South Dakota brand programs are producer-funded and do not receive state taxpayer dollars.

Livestock in the brand inspection area (west of the Missouri River) must be inspected when it leaves the brand area or changes ownership. They are not required to be branded.

People in any part of the state may own a brand and brand their cattle, horses or mules and the brand serves as proof of ownership, as long as it is currently registered with the South Dakota Brand Board.