Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cattle Rustling Plagues Ranchers

From the trying to increase it's 'fly over country' readership NY Times:

"Still, no state seems as hard hit by cattle rustling as Missouri.

“They’ve just been plagued,” said Larry Gray, head of law enforcement for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Mr. Gray, who said that cattle theft was often tied to drug activity, added that Missouri farmers might be more vulnerable to rustlers because many farmers there were “absentee producers” with smaller operations.

“Thieves like to prey on the smaller producers,” he said, because “it’s a lot easier for the thieves to get and load the cattle.”

Also, unlike many larger cattle-producing Western states, Missouri does not have a “brand law,” meaning that cattle producers are not required to register brands with the state.

Not having to register saves many of the state’s 65,000 ranchers from paying fees, but it also means that cattle often carry no identifying marks. Auction markets and stockyards are not required to verify ownership of unbranded cattle, and that, the authorities say, allows thieves to unload stolen livestock quickly.

“You could drive up to any sale barn, drop off your load of cattle, and if they pass the agricultural inspection and are sold, you’d get a check in the mail,” Sgt. Jason Clark, a Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman, said.

Since 2004, after a surge in cattle thefts following a spike in beef prices, many of the roughly 130 auction markets in Missouri have begun asking for identification and proof of ownership from anyone trying to sell unbranded cattle. But the program is voluntary, and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association estimates that thieves have stolen more than $1.1 million in cattle and equipment in the past four years."

Voluntary? Well, we can't be having folks determine their own affairs. I'm surprised Sheriff Obama hasn't devised a multi-billion dollar federal program to deal with problem, already.


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