For ranchers, making ends meet is a struggle as old as time. Add to that a bumpy ride and wide range of uncertainties related to health, weather, market conditions, and even the location of lost or stolen animals.
The Utah Legislature is sensitive to those realities balanced against the fiscal responsibility and fairness for all citizens. So, for the last two years, officials at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) and the Legislature have sought to create more alignment in the brand inspection fees category.
For many years, other funding was needed to correct budgetary shortfalls in brand inspection services and costs. However, working with legislative staffers last year, UDAF officials created a plan to bring parity to the program through prudent cost-cutting and adjustments to the fee schedule.
The results are now officially in with the brand inspection program now operating in the black for the first time in several years.
“I am proud of our team,” explained Leann Hunting, Animal Industry division director. “This was a very challenging issue that could have created a great deal of divisiveness in the industry, but the feedback we are now getting is positive and I am confident we are much stronger for having taken this course of action.”
Brand inspection fees are critical to the ranching industry, as the revenues generated create security and vitality in the industry. UDAF animal industry officials inspect nearly 1 million animals each year, registering almost 16,000 brands and earmarks, and issuing more than 57,000 certificates.
Funding through fees supports the agency’s ability to conduct brand identification and theft prevention activities. In fact, last year UDAF officials located and helped return 1,743 lost or stolen animals that were identified because of their brand. The value of these animals varies, but the market impact on ranchers is substantial – estimated at nearly $2 million.
“The work of our animal industry inspectors is an important part of our efforts to protect our ranchers and their industry,” said UDAF Commissioner Kerry Gibson. “In Utah, we understand that getting things done means working together for the common good, and that includes fairness and balance in our regulatory practices, fees, and services.”
Brand renewals will begin March 1, 2020, and are valid for five years. Registered brand owners will receive notification of the renewal process in the mail prior to February 14, 2020.
If notification of renewal is not received by February 14, 2020 brand owners may apply online at http://ag.utah.gov beginning March 1, 2020, using their brand registration number.
The renewal process will be done electronically but registration through the mail may also be accepted.