South Dakota Cattle Loss

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.

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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.

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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

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Ag Industry Receives 2 Hits

As you all know, our federal government has been on a shutdown since October 1st. This happened because members of Congress could not come to a budget agreement. The shutdown has forced about 800,000 federal employees off the job. So what impact does the government shutdown have on the agriculture industry?

Farmers are currently unable to access vital agriculture reports to make critical marketing decisions. The National Agriculture Statistics Service has stopped putting out new reports. These reports include information about supply and demand, prices, and exports. These reports are also used to set prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Feeder cattle are currently at a record high. According to the CME, live cattle and feeder cattle futures could be impacted. All website with past information have been taken down due to this government shutdown. Farmers are not able to track cattle auction prices as well. However, some USDA duties will continue through this shutdown such as meat and poultry inspections.

Since the United States Department of Agriculture is not operating, neither are local farm service agencies. This means farmers can not apply for loans, sign up for different governmental programs, or receive government checks from programs that are already enrolled in.

This shutdown occurred just at the same time our current farm bill expired. The combination of the two events will have short and long term impacts. This bill does a number of things including managing food stamps and regulating crop insurance. Many farm bill programs are funded through the whole year so the first major effects will take place at the beginning of 2014. Also, the farm bill expiration caused funding to expire for a few different conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program and the Grassland Reserve Program.

The effects of the government shutdown will be different for each person and business involved in the agriculture industry. It is unclear how long this shutdown will continue. How long do you think this shutdown will continue? How is this government shutdown affecting you and your family?