Livestock brands in Montana are employed to identify livestock, prevent theft, and used for disease traceability purposes.
They are also treasured items that are a part of family histories and symbols of pride and recognition for livestock producers.
But brand owners who have not yet re-recorded their brand with the state of Montana are coming up against a Dec. 31 deadline in order to retain ownership of their brand(s) for the next decade. The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) conducts the re-recording of brands every 10 years and began the latest effort on Jan. 1, 2021.
Brands Enforcement Division administrator Ethan Wilfore stressed the importance for brand owners to submit their re-record form or notice and payment ($175/brand) that must be received and/or postmarked on or before Dec. 31, 2021. Forms and payments can also be submitted online.
“The purpose of the brand re-record is to make sure that all brands are still being used,” explained Wilfore. “We need to re-record them every 10 years. So, every year that ends in a "1", obviously 2021, you need to re-record your brands. This is to make sure all of our records are cleaned up and we know those brands are still being used.”
The $175/per brand re-record fee ensures ownership of the brand for the next 10 years. The brand fees help the department function and assist the Brands Enforcement Division in protecting livestock producers and herd health. It’s important to point out that the $175 per brand payment is made just once every 10 years.
“When you pay for your re-record fee, you are helping pay for the functions of the department for the next 10 years,” said Wilfore. “Specifically, the Brands Enforcement Division. All our records and everything that are kept here in Helena. Our brand inspectors, law enforcement officers and such.”
Wilfore explained that brands play a critical role in Montana’s number one industry.
“Livestock theft still exists,” said Wilfore. “We have brand inspectors at the livestock markets that make sure that the folks bringing those animals into sell are the rightful owners. Because fraud still happens, and we are there to make sure that the producers are protected in the state.”
As of this Monday, Dec. 13, an estimated 42,000 out of Montana’s 56,000 livestock brands have been re-recorded. For brand owners, that have not yet completed the re-recording process the DOL is here to help.
“If the brands are not re-recorded by midnight on Dec. 31, 2021, then the brand is no longer on record with the department meaning it can no longer be used and it is not your brand anymore,” Wilfore said.
“At that point, it is inactive and no longer their brand. There is no grace period. If someone loses that brand, they can reapply for it," Wilfore continued. But it is considered a new application at that point and there's no guarantee that they would get that brand back.”
The DOL has been working for over two years in preparing for the brand re-record by sending mail notifications, getting the word out on multiple media platforms, and more. Even with less than three weeks before the end of the process, the department is making a final push to make sure no one is left behind.
People who aren't certain if their brand has been re-recorded — or possibly have a situation where a brand is in the name of a deceased relative — should contact the DOL immediately.
The Brands Enforcement Division can be reached at (406) 444-2045 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. People who would like to be served in the Helena Brand Office can use the phone found in the Lobby of the Scott Hart Building. Full details can be online by clicking here.