Char Price wants the governor and the state Senate to know that she opposes a measure that will make her $35,000 horse, Drifter, less safe.

To that end, Price and Drifter stood in front of the Capitol on Friday in protest of Senate Bill 21, which would eliminate ownership inspection for horses and mules.

No one should have to brand their animals, but if there were no inspections and Drifter were lost or stolen, where would the horse end up, Price asked. Additionally, branding is the cowboy way and part of South Dakota’s heritage, she said.

“If it goes through today, they will see a whole lot more like me,” Price said.

The bill was scheduled for a vote by the Senate Friday, but was tabled until today.

Jeremiah Murphy, a lobbyist for the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, which also opposes the bill, said the organization rejects the argument that program should be cancelled because owners aren’t paying the full price of inspection. That only means owners should be charged the full price, he said.

“If we are charging 80 cents and it costs $2, let’s charge $2,” Murphy said.

He also addressed testimony heard in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that there were no reported horse thefts in five years. He credited that to having an inspection

system in place and compared it to not having his home broken into because his doors have deadbolts.

Courtney De La Rosa, director of agriculture policy with the state Department of Agriculture, said the department suggested the bill as part of the governor’s initiative to remove red tape and regulations.

The department noticed 60 percent of horses and mules in the state were not branded and this would remove having an inspector come out when the horses left the inspection area or were sold, she said.

De La Rosa stressed that owners are still free can brand their animals and keep registered brands. They are also able to get a lifetime inspection guarantee for interstate travel, she said.

Law enforcement would still investigate any cases of lost or stolen horses, De La Rosa said.

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