South Dakota ranchers are digging out after a freak October blizzard. The storm was much worse than either forecast or imagined. Ranchers lost large portions of their livestock. Nearly four feet of snow … yes, feet … fell during a three day period earlier this month. South Dakota officials have claimed that at least 10,000 to 20,000 cows died during the blizzard. One rancher, according to the Associated Press, said he lost 96% of his herd due to the blizzard. He had both Angus and Limousin cattle.
South Dakota ranchers need help recovering from this devastating blizzard but they do not want blankets and non-perishables. They want, and need, pregnant cows to repopulate their herds.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter for stranded motorists and snowmobilers. The government shutdown prevented federal aid. The Black Hills Area Community Foundation established the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry impacted by the early October blizzard. The CHS Foundation, the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative, announced that it will contribute $100,000 to the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard is encouraging South Dakotans to assist ranchers who have experienced losses in the recent blizzard by donating to the Rancher Relief Fund.
“Like our ancestors, we will persevere in the face of hardship by helping one another. Our ranchers need to know that they are not facing this alone,” said Gov. Daugaard.
"Ranchers across western South Dakota suffered significant loss of cattle, sheep and other livestock as a result of this storm, the vast majority of which is not covered by insurance or other programs," said William Nelson, president, CHS Foundation.
In addition to the contribution, CHS is working directly with its affected producer customers in the region to identify short- and long-term needs for feed and other assistance.
After any disaster comes the heart retching chore of cleaning up. When the tornadoes ripped through Moore, Oklahoma back in May, families were seen afterwards digging through rubble in search of family photos, documents and memorabilia. The ranchers’ cleanup is considerably different. These tough hard working men and women are inspecting their lands and counting their losses. They must clean up the numerous carcasses and do so in a timely manner.
The SD Animal Industry Board (SDAIB), in partnership with the SD Office of Emergency Management, has contracted with a rendering service to begin clearing carcasses from state highways, ditches and right-of-ways. State personnel will do their best to establish ownership of the animal carcasses by verifying brands, official identification, description and location as carcasses are removed from state roadways.
Although current conditions make carcass disposal difficult, it is urgent that decaying carcasses be disposed of in as timely a manner as possible to prevent health and safety issues. Carcasses may be burned, buried to a depth of four feet or disposed of by a licensed rendering plant. Carcass disposal guidelines may be found on the SDAIB website: http://aib.sd.gov.
The effect this disaster will have here in Lancaster on beef prices has not yet been realized. Local farmers bring their beef to the Lancaster Central Farmer's Market each week from throughout Lancaster County. The Market is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located at 23 N Market Street.
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