Friday, October 11, 2013

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Well, if you have watched the news at all since the beginning of October you know that I have ALOT of time to watch the news. I am was a federal employee with the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA), who now has to figure out how to spend my days without spending money while Congress continues to not talk to each other about the horrible situation that America has realized.

BUT what you probably haven't seen on the news is the awful devastation that South Dakota farmers and ranchers are still trying to assess. Early reports estimate regional cattle losses to be about 5%, with some ranchers losing 20-50% of their herd. Do you know what this means for these guys? It could be the end of their ranch without help. And where should help be coming from? Well normally that would be a task that FSA would be charged with, except we are all at home on furlough and Congress has once again failed to enact a Farm Bill that would contain disaster programs to assist ranchers in times of severe disaster.

As many as 75,000 head of cattle perished in the unusually early and harsh storm. I've seen comments that the ranchers were negligent and committed animal abuse, which makes me want to slap someone, hard! and then kick them in the shin and hope they stub their toe! With over 4 feet of snow and 60 mph winds, its impossible to keep herds together. The cattle head to draws (low lying areas of pastures) to seek refuge from the wind and blowing snow, but when the draws start to fill with drifting snow, the cattle must leave the protection and face freezing temperatures, fierce winds and blowing snow or stay and eventually suffocate as they are covered with drifting snow. The animals become disoriented, lose their calves and become stuck in drifts, fences, ditches etc. Let me be clear this is NOT the fault of the ranchers and it breaks no one's heart more than the rancher and his/her family to see the aftermath of a storm like this. Mother Nature and agriculture is a great life, but it can be ugly and harsh.

Hope Sickler of Real American Cowboy Magazine wrote an amazing special report, Hell Strikes South Dakota - The Perfect Storm, for this under documented storm and true natural disaster. Please, please take time to read about the conditions that western South Dakota ranchers work under and to read the heartbreaking stories of those directly affected by this horrific storm.

Photo via Rapid City Journal

Photo via Rapid City Journal

But one thing that we can be sure of. South Dakota will pull together, pick themselves up and move on the best they can. The rest of the agriculture community throughout America will be there to embrace around them offering any support and prayers that they can. I urge you to do the same.

Tri-State Livestock News
Rapid City Journal
Beef Magazine
Real American Cowboy Search for "The Perfect Storm"


  1. It just makes me sick. My stomach is in knots thinking about those ranchers and what they are facing.


  2. It frustrates the crap out of me that this has essentially gotten NO news coverage. We put the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus and issues with Syria everywhere, but when a true disaster happens in our own country, no one knows. Pitiful. Praying for all of the people in SD.