Quick Reads

Brand Board power struggle tabled as work group arises

By: - February 27, 2023 1:37 pm
(Illustration by Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight; photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Illustration by Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight; photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Proponents and opponents of legislation to change the way South Dakota Brand Board members are selected have agreed to table the bill and instead put together a work group to address the problems the bill aimed to resolve. 

Brands are the symbols on hot irons used for marking livestock and identifying ownership. The board is responsible for registering and regulating livestock brands in South Dakota, and ensuring new brands do not conflict with existing registered brands in the state.

The bill would have shifted the power of appointing South Dakota Brand Board members from the governor to a direct election by brand owners.

Accusations fly as ranchers push for changes to Brand Board

The bill comes as some ranchers say they’re waiting more than six months to get a livestock brand registered with the state board, while the wait is about a week in neighboring North Dakota and Nebraska. And multiple South Dakota ranchers testified in an earlier hearing about being mistreated by the current Brand Board, often during the brand inspection process.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Liz May, R-Kyle, said if the board and work group don’t have solutions before the next legislative session in January 2024, she’ll bring more legislation. This year’s session ends March 9, except for a day to consider vetoes on March 27.

“I will bring a bill, and I will prevail,” May said during public testimony at the Capitol in Pierre. 

The work group’s membership will potentially include some legislators and representatives of the South Dakota Brand Board, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and the South Dakota Livestock Marketing Association.

“We believe these four entities are particularly well-suited to work through these issues,” said Jeremiah Murphy, a lobbyist for the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. “Let us go off and see what good we can do for the Brand Board.”

Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Secretary Hunter Roberts testified in favor of the motion to table the bill and said the department “looks forward to working through this process this summer” with the work group.




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Joshua Haiar
Joshua Haiar

Joshua Haiar is a reporter based in Sioux Falls. Born and raised in Mitchell, he joined the Navy as a public affairs specialist after high school and then earned a degree from the University of South Dakota. Prior to joining South Dakota Searchlight, Joshua worked for five years as a multimedia specialist and journalist with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.