The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska presented a fresh approach to reforming Nebraska’s livestock brand laws at a legislative committee meeting in North Platte Wednesday, Nov. 18.
The Legislature’s Agriculture Committee is conducting an interim study with cattle owners across the state to try to find consensus on reforming Nebraska’s Livestock Brand Act, which is often a contentious and misunderstood issue. A proposed reform was introduced last session but support for it collapsed, so Chairman Steve Halloran called for the interim study.
The ICON proposal starts with the underlying, intended purpose of proof of ownership; commonly mislabeled as the brand laws. The ICON proposal simply promotes equitable application and enforcement of livestock ownership identification requirements across the state and allows for multiple types of ownership identification.
ICON’s proposal is called the Livestock Ownership Verification Act.
Proposed by ICON leaders Don V. Cain, Jr. of Broken Bow and David Wright of Neligh, the proposal creates a framework to ensure the equity of proof of livestock ownership in all areas of the state.
- Stipulates that the governor would appoint five members of the Livestock Ownership Verification Agency, as is required now of brand commission members, adding the requirement that members must be from five different geographic areas of the state and own cattle exclusively within Nebraska.
- Acknowledges that hot brands are still primary evidence of ownership, but also recognizes more technological forms of livestock ID, including electronic devices, nose prints, retinal scans and DNA matches, so long as those forms are first approved by the state livestock ownership verification agency.
- Makes livestock ID inspectors employees of the state’s law enforcement division.
- Simplifies the ID requirements for moving cattle to a registered feedlot from a grow yard that is contracted by the feedlot.
- Provides for enforcement of ownership verification laws.
- Requires livestock ownership verification inspection only if ownership is changing or the cattle are leaving the state.
“Modernizing the livestock title laws is long overdue,” Cain said. “This is an issue that everyone can agree on and most all of the language has been in state statute for decades. While we will still recognize existing forms of ownership identification, it also allows for flexible and more modern approved forms of ownership verification. Identification is the key to modernization, implementation and acceptance.”
“This is a way to get everyone together, to focus on the basic intent of the law,” ICON President Jim Dinklage said. “It would be a step forward to preserve the integrity of Nebraska’s cattle industry.”