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Cattle losses hampered by end of disaster programs

Early blizzard causes heavy losses among South Dakota ranchers. USDA disaster program remains in limbo pending passage of a new farm bill.

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Western South Dakota ranchers suffered heavy cattle losses in the last weekend’s blizzard, and their recovery could be hampered by the expiration of government livestock disaster programs.

Union Center rancher Gary Cammack says he lost about 70 cows and some calves, roughly 15 percent of his herd. But he is particularly worried about younger ranchers who lost up to half their herds. Cammack says livestock disaster programs have expired, but he hopes they can be reinstated soon.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota says the pending farm bill would reauthorize livestock disaster programs retroactively, but Congress has so far not passed a new farm bill.

A spokesman for Sen. Tim Johnson says ranchers could have to wait until a new farm bill is passed to get monetary assistance.



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