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Auction-barn fees to increase with NAIS

Pat Kopecki
Wilson County News

Ranchers and others who will be affected by the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) are reviewing the Kansas State University benefit-cost analysis released in April 2009. One area of concern to the cow-calf operator is the added cost of tagging animals and what effect the tagging requirements will have at the auction barn, since a majority of cow-calf operators use local auction barns to sell their animals.

The study estimates costs for tagging at $3.30 to $5.22 per cow for a 50-head herd, depending on the current identification practice.

Those lacking the equipment to properly tag would have to use a tagging service at the auction yard. According to the April 2009 U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 'Factsheet,' the average cost per animal or head sold within the beef sector is $4.91 per animal. The cost for ranchers who background calves ' wean calves grazed prior to entry to the feedlot ' amounts to 71 cents per head additional cost. The feedlot operators' estimated cost is listed at 51 cents per head, and the cost for auction markets is estimated at 23 cents per head sold.

At the time the Agriculture Department's report was released, Nancy Robinson, the Livestock Marketing Association's president for government and industry affairs, testified at the April 15 round-table discussion on the future of NAIS.

Robinson spoke of the added hours needed to market the livestock at the auction barns if a mandatory NAIS program is implemented. She also said that ranchers might have to take their animals to the auction one day earlier, instead of the same day, possibly causing additional shrinkage.

Auction barn fees, which include commission, brand inspection, yardage, and other costs, currently range from $11 to $19 per animal. If NAIS becomes mandatory and tagging the animal is necessary, the Livestock Marketing Association estimates a cost of $26 to $41. The added cost is attributed to the added corrals to board cattle an extra day, computer equipment, and a 'change of the skill level of auction staff.'

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