Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1955 No. 75 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


The Director of Agriculture does not have the statutory authority to promulgate regulations permitting any person, firm, association or corporation to place an unrecorded mark or brand on livestock.

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                                                                   May 11, 1955

Honorable Sverre N. Omdahl
Director of Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 75

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of April 13, 1955, you requested our opinion as to whether the Director of Agriculture has the authority, under Chapter 16.56, RCW, to promulgate regulations setting aside a portion of an animal upon which an owner could place a mark or brand which would not be recorded.

            Your question is answered in the negative.


            Section 3, chapter 156, Laws of 1935, (RCW 16.56.090) reads as follows:

            "No evidence of ownership of stock by brands shall be permitted in any court of this state unless the brand shall have been recorded as provided by this act.  On and after September 1, 1935, it shall be unlawful for any owner or agent of owners to brand any livestock in the State of Washington with an unrecorded brand."  (Underlining added).

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Under section 11 of the act, the director is authorized to make or promulgate rules and regulations for the enforcement of the act which are not inconsistent with its provisions.

            Historically, brands were and are used for purposes of identification and proof of ownership.  There is nothing inconsistent in the regulation of the director providing that certain brands used by the Federal or State Departments shall be unrecorded.  Those brands having to do with disease or condemnation after inspection are not brands relating to ownership, and as such are not "brands" within the meaning of the act.  Nor is there any inconsistency in the same regulation providing that the Federal and Indian Department brands shall not be recorded by any individual.  Reading the act in its entirety, the relationship of brands to "any person, firm, association or corporation" is referred to repeatedly.  Neither the Federal Government nor the Indian Department could be construed as being a "person, firm, association or corporation."

            We hope the foregoing analysis will prove helpful.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General