BOISE — A bill that would end a disagreement between auction yards and trader lots over livestock testing requirements is gliding through the Idaho Legislature.
Idaho lawmakers last year rejected a proposed rule by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture that would have placed stricter livestock removal testing requirements on trader lots.
While they both sell cattle, trader lots are open six days a week and have less overhead than auction yards because they skip the public auction process and sell directly to customers. Trader lots handle mostly cull cows from dairies.
The state’s livestock auction industry petitioned the ISDA for last year’s proposed rule change as a way to protect the health of Idaho’s cattle herds by ensuring trader lots play by the same rules when it comes to animal removal requirements.
Auction yard representatives said Idaho’s animal removal requirements don’t apply equally to trader lots.
But lawmakers said the rule would have actually placed greater restrictions on trader lots than those auction yards face and they rejected it.
A bill introduced this year by Sen. Bert Brackett, a Republican rancher from Rogerson, would solve the dispute. It passed the Senate 32-0 and the House ag committee has sent it to the floor with a “do-pass” recommendation.
Brackett told fellow lawmakers his legislation would address the concern auction yards have over testing requirements for trader lots without unfairly burdening trader lots.
He said it closes a loophole in Idaho code that allows bulls eligible to be tested for trichomoniasis to be removed from a trader lot and returned to the country for breeding purposes without being tested for the venereal disease, which causes abortions and infertility in cattle.
“This bill is about animal health, disease prevention and assuring traceability ... as livestock move through the marketing channel,” he said. “I believe this bill strikes a good balance between protecting animal health and not interfering with commerce.”
The legislation requires brucellosis test-eligible cattle to receive a health certificate prior to being released from a trader lot for breeding or grazing purposes.
Brackett’s bill was supported by trader lot co-owner Joel Van Lith, who opposed the proposed rule change last year.
“This is a very straightforward, plain-spoken bill that Sen. Brackett has presented,” he told legislators. “It encompasses everything I feel needs to be done for herd health.”
The bill also consolidates all of the state’s livestock removal requirements for auction yards, trader lots, buying stations and livestock dealers in one place. They are currently located in various places throughout Idaho code and rules, Brackett said.
“It simplifies things a lot to put them all in one place,” he said.
The legislation was supported by the Idaho Cattle Association and Idaho Farm Bureau Federation during public hearings.
Speaking on behalf of the ICA, Stan Boyd said the legislation clearly lists all of the state’s livestock removal requirements.
“It spells out very distinctly what each entity needs or does not need,” he said.