We all know how powerful and temperamental Mother Nature can be at times. Just over ten days ago, South Dakota farmers and ranchers experienced an early season snowstorm that dumped four feet of snow in parts of the state. Along with the snow came rain, freezing temperatures, and seventy miles an hour winds. All of these factors contributed to a farmer’s worst nightmare.
During this time, cattle were still grazing in summer pastures where adequate shelter for winter like conditions was not available. A few inches of rain fell creating a muddy mess at first. After that came the wind, freezing temperatures and snow. Livestock died of suffocation, exposure, and many froze to death. Many of them huddled up in open pastures and ravines to try to stay warm. News stations are reporting that tens of thousands of cattle did not survive this disaster. Farmers woke up devastated to their cattle scattered across the land. Most ranchers lost 50-75 percent of their herd. Can you image that? Anyone involved in agriculture knows how much of a tremendous affect that has on a farmer and our economy. This disaster, including financial loss, will take many farmers years to recover from.
Image from thefencepost.com
The government shutdown that we are currently experiencing only makes things worse for these South Dakota farmers. Since the agriculture department is closed during this time, farmers are unable to report their loss. Also, the farm bill extension has been delayed due to the government shutdown which funded programs that provided disaster relief for farmers in similar situations.
Image from usatoday.com
What does this mean for our economy?
South Dakota is our nation’s 6th leading producer of cattle. They average around four million head of cattle per year, much of which are raised for slaughter. Beef prices could drastically increase due to the losses in South Dakota, depending on how fast we can get cattle to market again.
This disaster is devastating to cattle producers and anyone involved in the agriculture industry. Those who know how much time, money, and labor that are put into a farming operation know what affect a disaster like this can cause. Since winter hasn’t even begun, many farmers are wondering what our winter is going to be like.
You can stay up-to-date on this issue at brownfieldagnews.com