Changes benefit dairies, bulk feed distributors
By SEAN ELLIS
BOISE -- The House and Senate agricultural committees have approved a new state rule that could reduce the price of commercial livestock feed in Idaho.
The new rule changes how Idaho's commercial feed program is funded. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture program ensures animal feed sold in Idaho doesn't contain harmful adulterants and that labels are accurate.
The rule change will require companies that register animal feed products in Idaho to pay an annual registration fee of $40 per product.
Companies were formerly charged an annual registration fee of $5, plus quarterly tonnage fees that equaled 20 cents a ton.
Livestock groups and companies that sell a lot of bulk feed such as dried distillers grain and soybean meal supported the change and said the former tonnage fees resulted in them shouldering an inordinate share of the program's cost.
The change was opposed by companies that register many products, such as pet food, but sell them in much smaller amounts.
The change will allow ISDA staff to spend more time ensuring the quality of animal feed instead of tracking the tonnage reports, said Lloyd Knight, administrator of the ISDA's plant industries division.
Milk Producers of Idaho Executive Director Brent Olmstead told members of the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee Jan. 17 that the burdensome tonnage reports resulted in higher feed costs for livestock producers.
Changing to the new fee structure will save dairymen $1 to $2 per load of feed, he said.
"It's not a lot of money but in a year's time you can get 400 or 500 loads of feed, so there is some savings for us," he said.
More importantly, he added, it ensures a program important to the livestock industry is adequately funded.
"We want to know that what we receive is the same as what we purchased off that label. That is the purpose of this legislation," he said.
Doug Jones, who represented several large feed companies and national trade associations that opposed the changes, said he preferred ISDA set a lower fee and use some of its $1.6 million fund balance, which is equal to the cost of operating the program for two years.
"It's industry's money that's being held by the department and we'd like to see ... that worked down to a reasonable reserve level," he said.
Knight said proposed commercial feed rules related to the Food Safety Modernization Act are pending and states will be asked to take a larger role.
"Let's see what happens with that before we get too crazy on fees and fund balances," he said. "You don't want that fund balance to get too high but we have to keep our eye on some other stuff (that may be coming our way)."
Under Idaho Legislature rules, the ag committees' approval of the program change will result in it becoming law.