By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: Clay Overson is our lead story in the October 2014 issue of Arizona Agriculture, Arizona Farm Bureau’s Monthly publication exclusive to our agriculture membership. We interviewed Mr. Overson regarding a very important issue regarding brand and inspection issues in the ranching issue. To give readers a taste of what we discussed we share excerpts of the interview below. To read the full story and the best parts of the interview, you’ll have to wait for the October 2014 issue of Arizona Agriculture. Not a member? Sign up today online. At the bottom of this article select the button “Join Our Family.”

Clay Overson is a fourth-generation rancher. He purchased his first ranch in 1983 and has owned or leased and operated 24 different ranches. Four of them were in southern California in the Mojave National Preserve. The balance of them, are located in Mohave, Yavapai, Maricopa and La Paz Counties of Arizona.

Clay and Sandy Overson represent a great tradition of ranching in our state and hope to see advances in Arizona's brand and inspection program for the industry. Read their full story in the October 2014 issue of Arizona Agriculture  

Overson currently owns or leases 14 Ranches near Kingman and Wikieup in Mohave and Yavapai Counties. His current operation covers over 450,000 acres. With over 30 years of experience ranching in desert environments and being involved with the natural resources and wildlife habitats, he’s worked with the Bureau of Land Management; Arizona State Land Dept., Arizona Game & Fish Dept., University of Arizona Extension Office, National Park Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Railroad leases, private leases, UCLA, Wilderness Society and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resolving issues, grazing livestock, setting up deferred grazing systems, developing numerous waters and conservation projects.

He’s served on the Advisory Board for the Mojave National Preserve, the San Bernardino County Grazing Advisory Board and a RAC sub-Committee and is currently on the Kingman Grazing Advisory Board. He’s President of the Mohave Livestock Association, President of the Mohave County Farm Bureau and an Executive Committee Member of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association.

In this context, Overson is a perfect candidate for a discussion regarding our state’s branding and inspection issues as it relates to our livestock. Arizona Agriculture had a few questions for him.

Arizona Agriculture: Beyond the tradition and rich history of the brand, traditional branding is still considered the easiest and most effective way to protect and identify livestock and validate ownership, while ranchers also like to use ear tags to distinguish one animal from another. Where do you see animal ID headed in the future, specifically in Arizona?

Overson: The brand is an effect way to prove ownership. The Animal ID is a Federal identification for cattle moving in and out of State. I see the Animal ID, as another Federal Government paperwork blunder. It is very expensive for ranchers, sale yards and feedlots. We already have an Arizona registered brand inspection and health papers traveling with out-of-state shipments. The Animal ID would only be duplicating this process.

Arizona Agriculture: As a rancher, what’s been the challenges you’ve personally faced with brand inspection and the current system in our state?

Overson: Our biggest challenge is outdated policies and lack of readiness to move cattle.

The purpose of a brand inspection is to make sure you have the right identification on the right cow and to make sure you own the cow, how you got the cow and where you got the cow. The brand inspector is there to look at the cattle to help cut down on human error (Just like changing ownership on a vehicle.). We do not feel that this requires an armed inspector. Every County has a Sheriff's Department. If there is a discrepancy, it would be turned over to the Sheriff at the request of the brand inspector and the parties involved. If there is a need for a State cattle detective, so be it.

More to come in the pages of Arizona Agriculture!

Editor’s Note: Many are working in government and outside associations to improve both brand and inspection laws. We have to find ways to strengthen these programs. There is a good reason for these regulatory programs, but they must work to facilitate commerce, not impede it. ADA participated in a Q&A during a recent Arizona Farm Bureau Board of Director’s meeting. In the meantime, watch for further development on this issue in the coming months.

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