Electronic cattle inspection advances

The Nebraska Brand Committee could use electronic devices, nose prints, retinal scans or DNA matches to inspect cattle under a bill advanced from the first round of debate March 22.

Sen. Steve Halloran
Sen. Steve Halloran

LB572, introduced by Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran, would allow the committee to provide for electronic inspection of enrolled cattle identified by certain approved nonvisual identifiers. Electronic inspection would not require committee employees to be present.

“The option of e-inspection holds promise in reducing cost and inconvenience to the industry and the brand committee,” Halloran said.

The committee would establish procedures for cattle enrollment that would include providing acceptable certification or evidence of ownership and submit a report to the Legislature describing actions taken to implement electronic inspection.

The bill would create a separate electronic inspection fee of no more than 95 cents per head until June 30, 2023.

As introduced, LB572 would change fees related to registered feedlots and increase fees for new brand applications and brand renewals. It also temporarily would reduce the physical brand inspection fee — which currently may be no more than $1.10 per head — to 95 cents per head until June 30, 2023. Beginning July 1, 2023, it could be no more than $1.50 per head.

The bill would eliminate a current travel surcharge and authorize the committee to charge for actual mileage.

LB572 also would allow a registered feedlot within the brand area to move cattle from a backgrounder lot to a registered feedlot without inspection if 100 percent of the cattle in the backgrounder lot are owned by the registered feedlot, among other requirements.

Additionally, the proposal would require the committee to provide a certified bill of sale and a certified transportation permit to qualified dairies that sell or move calves under 30 days of age out of the brand inspection area. Dairies first would have to provide required information electronically to the committee.

Finally, the bill would make violations of several Nebraska Brand Act provisions infractions enforceable by citation.

An Agriculture Committee amendment, adopted 30-7, would decrease the physical and electronic inspection fees to 85 cents per head through June 30, 2023, and leave in place the current statutory maximum for physical brand inspections of $1.10 per head.

Halloran said it also would remove provisions in the original bill related to registered feedlot fees and backgrounder lots.

“The revisions in the original bill were brought to address perceptions among some in the feeding industry that the brand law, particularly brand inspection, is increasingly archaic and [an] unnecessary expense and burden on the feedlot sector,” he said. “However, this part of the bill received the greatest pushback during the hearing.”

Halloran said the committee amendment instead would reduce physical inspection fees by 15 percent for all sectors of the cattle industry for the next two years, forcing the brand committee to spend down a large cash reserve.

Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard supported the proposed fee decrease. He also introduced an amendment, adopted 36-2, that would make appointments to the brand committee subject to confirmation by the Legislature.

The amendment also would make it a Class III felony to willfully or knowingly apply, remove, damage or alter an approved nonvisual identifier — or corrupt the information recorded on an identifier — if it is done to steal or falsely assert ownership of livestock.

Gering Sen. John Stinner opposed the bill, saying the proposed increase in brand registration and renewal fees would create an additional burden on feedlot owners in the brand inspection area.

Senators voted 26-4 to advance the bill to select file.

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