RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The early October blizzard that killed thousands of cattle in western South Dakota will have a staggering effect on the regional economy, the head of the state Stockgrowers Association said.
The cattle in the area before the blizzard were worth $550 million, with a potential economic impact of $1.7 billion in the region.
But, many of those cattle died in the storm, Stockgrowers Executive Director Silvia Christen said Oct. 21.
State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven has estimated cattle losses at between 15,000 and 30,000.
Affected ranchers also won’t be buying trucks, eating at restaurants and participating in activities, Christen said.
About $300,000 has been donated to a relief fund set up since the Oct. 4 blizzard dumped up to 4 feet of snow on the region, Christen said.
“We’ve received donations from 48 states and three different countries, including some really generous donations from individuals . . . ,’’ she said.
Ranchers in northwest Nebraska and southwest North Dakota also suffered heavy cattle losses. So, far there has been no federal aid because a government program to help ranchers recover livestock losses has expired, and Congress has yet to pass a new farm bill.
Aaron Krauter, North Dakota FSA executive director, told an ag publication he was optimistic Congress would pass a new farm bill that reauthorizes funding for the program and makes it retroactive to cover losses from the blizzard.
Some ranchers have private insurance that would compensate them for at least part of their blizzard-related losses, but such insurance is rare, said Jesse Konold, with Key Insurance in Mobridge, S.D. Konold told an ag publication he estimates only about one-fifth of his company’s clients have the insurance, which can cost as much as $7 for each $1,000 of coverage.
“That’s a big hit to profits,’’ Konold said.
Ranchers can get some federal help
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Some federal help is available to South Dakota ranchers who lost cattle to an early October blizzard, but it's limited, Michal Scuse, USDA under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services said. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) can help ranchers with the cost of disposing of carcasses, replacing destroyed fencing and rebuilding shelterbelts. The special EQIP signup runs through Nov. 15. Contact the NRCS.