STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledges his agency hasn’t been able to do much for western South Dakota ranchers hit by an early October blizzard.

He told KBHB-AM in Sturgis that livestock disaster assistance programs expired in 2011, so Congress needs to pass a new Farm Bill and make the financial help retroactive for losses due to the storm and drought.

Vilsack says he understands the frustrations of the state’s congressional delegation and agriculture producers regarding the closure of Farm Service Agency offices when they’re needed most. But he says he had no way to legally open FSA offices under the government shutdown.

He says now that government’s operating again, work can begin on helping out those hurt by the storm.

Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter

Recommended for you