BOISE — Idaho livestock owners who had a brand inspection between July 1 and Oct. 1 are eligible for a partial refund.
Because of a paperwork error, those producers were overcharged 25 cents per head during that time.
Idaho State Brand Inspector Larry Hayhurst told Capital Press the overcharge was due to a paperwork error, a claim that was substantiated by Jani Revier, budget director of the state’s Division of Financial Management.
“In the simplest terms, the paperwork didn’t all get filed correctly,” she said.
The Idaho Brand Board in May proposed a temporary rule to raise the state’s brand inspection fee by 25 cents, from 94 cents to $1.19 a head.
That increase, which was approved by the governor’s office, was intended to cover an anticipated increase in personnel and equipment costs in fiscal year 2018 related partially to the new beef processing plant in Kuna.
It was expected to raise $462,000.
But the proposed increase was never published in Idaho’s Administrative Bulletin in June, a requirement for it to become effective.
The brand board didn’t find that out until late September.
That means producers who had brand inspections July 1-Oct. 1 were overcharged 25 cents per head and are eligible for a refund. Hayhurst said they have until Jan. 1 to request one but that date will likely by extended.
He said there is confusion over why the paperwork error occurred, but ultimately, the responsibility for the error lies with him.
“It was just a stupid error,” he said. “At the end of the day, I should have caught it. All we can do is fix it, be upfront about it and do what is right.”
After correcting the mistake, the brand board began collecting the higher fee as of Oct. 2.
Hayhurst said about 400,000 cattle inspections were performed July 1-Oct. 1, which means the board could have to refund as much as $100,000 if every producer requests a refund.
He said groups representing the beef and dairy industries have been notified of the error and the brand board will purchase advertisements in industry publications explaining the issue.
“We will advertise it and give everybody a reasonable chance to ask for a refund if they want one,” Hayhurst said.
Idaho Cattle Association Executive Vice President Cameron Mulrony said his group is comfortable with how the brand board is handling the issue.
“I think the route they are taking is the most logical and feasible from the industry’s standpoint,” he said.
He had one bull inspected during the time-frame in question but said he won’t be seeking his 25-cent refund.
“It would cost them more to mail me my 25-cent refund,” he said.
Idaho Dairymen’s Association Executive Director Rick Naerebout said IDA supports how the issue is being handled.
“The brand board visited with my board and they were completely transparent about it,” he said. “It was a mistake. Mistakes happen.”
Livestock owners seeking a refund should submit their requests to: Idaho State Brand Inspector, P.O. Box 1177, Meridian, Idaho 83680.