Blizzard In Black Hills Leaves Ranchers With Major Losses

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (October 14, 2013)--The fall storm that dumped as much as four feet of snow on western South Dakota last weekend left ranchers in the area with heavy losses.

State officials say as many as 20,000 head of livestock died in last weekend's blizzard in the Black Hills.

Ranchers are now faced with disposing of the carcasses.

Pits for the dead animals are set to open Monday.

Heath Ferguson says the storm killed 96 percent of his herd of 100 Black Angus and Limousin cattle, a hit worth $250,000.

He said total losses topped more than 1,000 head, as six other herds were roaming the family's 16,000 acres east of Sturgis.

Cattle ranchers faced with weather-related losses would usually turn to the federal Livestock Indemnity Program for compensation, but that farm bill provision has expired and its future is in flux because of congressional gridlock and the continuing federal shutdown.

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