Producers debate branding options


Cost and contracts weighed | Inspections are an important part of livestock traceability

SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. — As a committee works toward a new method of brand inspection, producers at a meeting here said it should be a made-in-Saskatchewan system controlled by the cattle industry.


Saskatchewan announced in August that an eight-person committee would consider industry-led options and report a preferred option to agriculture minister Lyle Stewart early in the new year.


The province is the only one that still uses government employees to conduct brand inspections and it charges more than inspectors in other provinces. Last year, it also lost more than $150,000.


The co-chairs of the committee, Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association chair Mark Elford and Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association president Harold Martens, updated producers at a recent SCA district meeting.


Elford said the committee has looked at different options and asked for cost breakdowns.


“We did look at the financial statements of the Alberta system,” Martens said.


One option is to sign a contract with Livestock Identification Services, which charges $1.25 per head.


LIS has a budget of about $5 million annually and a shortfall of about $500,000, Martens said. However, some of the money goes toward research projects.


In North Dakota, a producer group comprising representatives of various sectors provides brand inspection for about $1 per head.


Asked if there was any chance the government would change its mind, Martens said no.


“It’s a done deal,” he said.


A resolution from the meeting calling for producers to take on brand inspection themselves and include Manitoba, which relies on Saskatchewan inspectors, carried after discussion.


That shouldn’t preclude a contract with LIS if that turns out to be the best option, producers said.


Brand inspection will remain an important part of livestock traceability, added Elford, and systems have to be compatible as livestock moves from one province to another.


Resolutions passed at SCA district meetings have to go before the full membership at the annual meeting in January.

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