Brand Board member Joe Pongratz says the measure is being carried by Senator Al Davis and if approved, would -not- result in a fee increase for those using the program.
“This won’t change anybody’s cost, we’re still charging 75-cents,” Pongratz says. “Have a cash reserve and when it gets to 45%, we lower the fees per head. We’ve done that in the past. When it gets below 20%, we always increase it. Well, it’s at 18% and the reserve is dwindling still and we can’t do anything to save it.”
Under the plan, the cap would be raised from 75-cents per head to $1.25.
Pongratz says there are two main reasons they want the cap raised, for staff raises and for much-needed technology updates to keep the brand program running efficiently and effectively.
“Our payroll for our employees is below par and it’s tough to keep good quality people,” Pongratz says. “We have a high turnover rate. And our computer program that has all the brands on it is, like, 30 years old.”
Cattle brands are used in roughly the western two-thirds of Nebraska.
Most Nebraska agricultural groups back the measure including the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, the Farm Bureau and Farmers Union.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton