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Blaine Northrop is the North Dakota Stockmen's Association's chief brand inspector.

NDSA names Northrop chief brand inspector

BISMARCK, N.D. — Blaine Northrop has had a few weeks of big changes in his professional career. In July, he was elected president of the International Livestock Identification Association. And as of Aug. 1, he is the new chief brand inspector for the North Dakota Stockmen's Association.

Northrop replaces Stan Misek as NDSA's chief brand inspector. Misek has retired after 35 years with the NDSA.

Northrop worked as a brand inspector in North Dakota from 1992 to 2008. He started as a market inspector in Dickinson, N.D., before earning his North Dakota peace officer license and being promoted to west river fieldman.

Northrop in 2008 moved to Nevada, where he became the chief brand inspector, agricultural enforcement supervisor and, for a time, a co-administrator for the Nevada Department of Agriculture. In Nevada, he says, his department was the "eyes and ears" for the plant department, doing roadside stops and going into stores to inspect produce, and for the animal health department, where they helped trace animal disease. The vast size of Nevada ranches was a change, and overall, he says working there "opened my eyes a lot more."

"It probably made me a better investigator," he says.

NDSA in the spring of 2017 hired Northrop to come back to North Dakota as deputy investigator. Coming home was an easy decision for family reasons, Northrop says.

As chief brand inspector, Northrop will oversee the inspection program; employ, train, supervise and direct the organization's fieldmen and brand inspectors; investigate infractions related to livestock brand inspection statutes and regulations; and provide inspection services as necessary, among other duties.

"While new to this position, Blaine Northrop is no stranger to North Dakota's livestock producers or law enforcement community," NDSA President Warren Zenker said in a statement. "Our state will continue to benefit from his broad-based experience in livestock identification, investigation and administration as he serves in this new role."

Northrop's old position will be filled down the road, but for now, he doesn't foresee any other changes to the state's brand program.

"The Stockmen's Association's brand program is just like a well-oiled machine," Northrop says. "It looks like everything is right on track."

He advises anyone with problems or concerns to contact the Stockmen's Association.

"We're there for the producer," he says. "That's who we work for is the livestock producer."

While Northrop adjusts to his new position in North Dakota, he also is adjusting to being the president of the International Livestock Identification Association, an international trade organization dedicated to the promotion, administration and enforcement of livestock identification and inspection laws and a conduit for animal identification and agriculture professionals to share information and collaborate across member states and provinces. Northrop was named president during the ILIA's annual conference in Bend, Ore., July 15-18. He says he's still "getting my feet wet" in the position. Part of his job there will entail making other beef organizations more exposed to ILIA and its mission regarding identification and traceability of animals.

Northrop isn't the only North Dakota brand inspector to get a seat at a national table. West River Fieldman Steve Bay of Carson, N.D., was appointed as a director of the Western States Brand Conference at the group's meeting in Bend, Ore., July 15-18. The Brand Conference group is comprised of livestock investigators from across the western U.S. who collaborate to enforce the country's livestock laws.

Before joining the NDSA team as the west river fieldman, a licensed peace officer position, Bay was the long-time Grant County sheriff and a local brand inspector.

"Congratulations are in order for Blaine Northrop and Steve Bay," NDSA Brand Board Chairman Jeff Schafer, a New Rockford, N.D., cattleman, said in a statement. "These achievements are indicative of their professionalism and dedication to the livestock industry and in justice being served."

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