Western South Dakota ranchers cope with cattle losses - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Western South Dakota ranchers cope with cattle losses

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The blizzard in western South Dakota this past weekend has ranchers feeling the effects.

The number of cattle lost is anywhere from a few head of cattle to 50% or more of ranchers' herds.

Ranchers are still trying to grasp just how much damage was done to their herds. Days after the blizzard, they are still learning the level of loss and severity.

As the blizzards in western South Dakota come in the wake of the government shutdown, federal farm agencies are not available to those ranchers who's livelihoods are in question. 

"I would encourage them to keep on their documentation and keep doing business as usual keeping in mind that the federal government will come back online and they'll need to have all their documentation or items ready to get back into those programs," said Ty Eschenbaum, Agriculture Development Representative for South Dakota Department of Agriculture.

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch said the state has stepped in as an advocate for those ranchers -- making sure recovery plans are moving forward.

"We are at this point really assisting in the streamlining of the documentation effort and helping to be a customer service agent and making sure that people are getting the resources that they need access to in the recovery plan," said Lentsch.

It's not only ranchers who will be feeling the effects from the blizzard.

"Let alone the ranchers that are going to be hit the hardest but all the Main Street businesses from the people that -- the transportation or the feed or the sale barn; all those are going to be hit," said Eschenbaum.

Eschenbaum said he is confident ranchers will be able to rally back from the devastation.

"There's no doubt in my mind that they'll come back just as strong as ever," said Eschenbaum.

The Secretary of Agriculture said some cattle still may be buried in the snow so we may not know the final number of losses until spring.

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