A South Dakota blizzard killed 75,000 cows and dumped approximately five feet of snow on the state. The record-setting early season storm began last week and snow continued to fall on the Black Hills region over the weekend. Many in the central Rocky Mountain region have dubbed the arctic blast the “Blizzard that Never Was” due to the lack of national attention to the storm.
Rapid City area ranchers predict the South Dakota blizzard will impact beef prices and the state’s massive livestock industry for several years. Until the weather warms and the snow melts, a multitude of cow carcasses will remain covered. The loss of potential calves due to the early season snow storm is expected to be significant as well. Early estimates indicate that the massive blizzard took at least 5 percent of ranchers’ cattle.
Union Center rancher Gary Cammack had this to say about livestock losses due to the snow storm which stretched from Wyoming to South Dakota:
“It’s bad. It’s really bad. I’m the eternal optimist and this is really bad. The livestock loss is just catastrophic. It’s pretty unbelievable. It’s the worst early season snowstorm I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
Cammack, 60, said he lost 15 percent of his herd. According to the veteran ranchers, calves typically sell for about $1,000 each and mature cows garner at least $1,500 at market. South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Executive Director Silvia Christen reports that some ranchers lost 20 to 50 percent of their livestock in the blizzard.
Some ranchers believe that their losses were “aggravated” because a government disaster program to designed to aid their industry when such losses occur, had expired. At least 22,000 businesses and homes remain without power due to the severe impact of the South Dakota blizzard.
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