As most have already heard, South Dakota took a big hit last week. Around four foot of snow covered western South Dakota. The state reports its producer’s total loss to be around 10,000 to 20,000 head of livestock. There was also a report that two human deaths had also been caused by the blizzard. Most of the ranchers did not have insurance covering storm damage, simply because they cannot afford it. Many sold down last year due to droughts and now have experienced around 96% herd loss of their remaining herd. Another hit during this time is the fact that our government is also currently shut down. At the same time as the shutdown, the farm bill also expired. As many ranchers are self-reliant and usually depend on their own, but due to all the losses that they have faced in the past two years they could really use the help from the Livestock Indemnity Program. However, the shutdown allowed the farm bill to run out causing there to be no Livestock Indemnity Program. It was said that even if the government would open and Congress reached a compromise on a new farm bill that it could still take months before the program would be put back in place. For now producers are being told to take pictures and document their losses and keep good records, as the unburied livestock can start being hauled to ditches. These ditches were made available due to a county willing to help their producers (http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/10/14/south-dakota-ranchers-reeling-from-cattle-losses/2980793/).
For any producer this type of loss is just devastating. I saw a story about a calf that had been buried in the snow for five days and was found still alive. They could not understand how such a miracle could happen. Many producers were barely making it due to the economy and now many are wondering how they are even going to make it without that income and the loss of livestock which they had socked a lot of money in. Several associations are asking for donations, whether it be money or livestock for the victims affected by the storm. If anybody is able to help these producers, I strongly encourage it.