South Dakota Blizzard Devastates LivestockBy: Tobias Roth - October 14, 2013
South Dakota has recently experienced a horrible blizzard, which is affecting the cattle and many farmers in the state. While much of the country is still having summer or early fall-like temperatures, South Dakota has been hit early with the nasty weather that usually does not come for another couple months. Tens of thousands of cattle have been found dead, huddled and frozen, after the shocking storm that hit South Dakota earlier this month.
Due to the government shutdown, many of the farmers are not able to get help and the 6,000 ranching operations that have been hit do not have any safety net. Mile after mile, half-buried by snow, the dead animals lay huddled in groups. Carcasses by the dozens strung out along field fences and packed into ditches, black hooves poking up through the drifts like macabre stakes, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In what is being called the state’s worst economic disaster in decades, officials are saying that the storm has ravaged South Dakota’s $7 billion livestock industry. NPR reports that the cattle, who were grazing in their summer pastures when the blizzard hit, and had not been able to build up a thick winter coat of fur yet, causing them to have disastrous results as soon as the storm hit.
Many, disoriented in the blizzard, wandered to exhaustion and fell victim to hypothermia before suffocating under the snow drifts. The number of casualties to the livestock is hard to determine still, partly due to the fact that the federal agency in charge of tallying the loss of livestock after a disaster is closed during the government shutdown.
For those that say that the government shutdown is not having an effect on regular American people, these cattle ranchers would certainly have something to say about that.
The cattle that has been lost could be a heavy blow to South Dakota’s economy, as they rely on the cows for their beef. It is predicted by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association that the state lost at least 5 percent of its cattle. The South Dakota blizzard is proving to be very disastrous for the livestock and the farmers all over the state who depend on them to make a living.
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