Brand Board made misleading statements
BUFFALO, S.D. -- This letter is in response to the recent letter to the editor from Mark Kimball, chairman of the S.D. Brand Board. I would like to clear up some of the implications made in Kimball's letter. He stated that the South Dakota Stockg...
BUFFALO, S.D. -- This letter is in response to the recent letter to the editor from Mark Kimball, chairman of the S.D. Brand Board.
I would like to clear up some of the implications made in Kimball's letter.
He stated that the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association had proposed a contract in which the South Dakota Brand Board would pay all expenses plus an implementation fee of 8 percent. The truth of the matter is, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association never has expected or wanted the Brand Board to be involved in paying any expenses or an implementation fee. That was the Brand Board's idea.
Year after year
For decades, the SDSGA managed the brand inspection program as an independent contractor. We collected the inspection fee, paid all expenses and, if there was surplus, we made a profit that year. There were years where the income didn't cover expenses, or it was a break-even. We still paid expenses and kept going. It was a system very similar to ranching; we would try to put a little savings away during the "good years" (years with high numbers of inspections), knowing that a "bad year" was just around the corner. We never once asked for state aid or assistance of any kind. The program always was funded completely with brand inspection fees.
Until just more than a year ago, the South Dakota Brand Board informed us that this type of a contract no longer would be acceptable. It only would consider a contract in which the Brand Board took possession of all income, then remitted funds to pay expenses, plus an administration fee to the Stockgrowers for managing the program. Reluctantly, the Stockgrowers accepted the contract because producers, auction markets and brand inspectors wanted the Stockgrowers to continue running the program rather than go to a state-run program.
Fast forward to this year's contract negotiations. The Stockgrowers once again hoped to come to terms with the Brand Board on a workable contract. We proposed three different contracts, none of which would have required an increase in the brand inspection fee, as Kimball stated in his letter. We proposed two contracts similar to last year's agreement, one with an 8 percent implementation fee one with a 6 percent implementation fee (the style of contract that the Brand Board had insisted upon). We also proposed a contract in the style of the "old" contract -- one in which the Stockgrowers would be responsible for all expenses, and no administration fee would be paid. All proposals would have provided raises for the full-time brand inspectors, and would have cash-flowed at the current 80-cent brand inspection fee. The Brand Board denied all three of these proposals.
These past few years the Stockgrowers have compromised on nearly every issue the Brand Board brought up because producers told us that they did not want a state-run brand inspection program; they wanted the Stockgrowers to continue to run the program.
The state brand board has made the decision to take over the brand program and now it is incumbent upon them to show that they can run a quality program for a reasonable price. It is up to producers to demand that they do so.
Editor's Note: Nelson is president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association in Buffalo, S.D.