An early snowstorm that blanketed parts of South Dakota in October of 2013 had far-reaching effects, and many cattle ranchers in the state are now worried about how they’re going to recover. Some ranches suffered extreme losses, while others fared better, but early estimates report that over 40,000 head of livestock were lost in the unexpected storm. More accurate estimates are expected as more claims are filed and more statistics become available.
While some individual ranchers suffered business-changing losses in the October storm, other reported only minor losses. While help has come from within the state and around the world, the financial impact of even a small loss has had a big effect on family ranches and those in delicate debt situations, and many ranchers have also talked about the difficulty in dealing with the emotional effects of finding that entire herds are gone.
However, the outlook is much better for the livestock industry as a whole. Experts estimate that South Dakota lost approximately eight percent of the livestock in blizzard-affected counties, but the statewide industry isn’t expected to suffer too much from the loss.
Depending on the extent of livestock loss, individual ranches that are in need of aid may have a number of options for recovery, including charitable relief through the South Dakota Ranchers Relief Fund—established specifically for recovery from the October blizzard—and various government relief programs.
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