U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem today encouraged livestock producers in western South Dakota to document their losses that resulted from the early season blizzard that hit the state over the weekend.
"My heart goes out to the families in western South Dakota. Many are without power and I've heard from ranchers who have lost significant portions of their herds. This comes after a devastating drought last year that impacted heard numbers and feed costs. I know the pain of losing livestock, and to see this happen so suddenly to so many is devastating. My office will be doing everything we can to provide some relief to those families," Noem said.
Noem encouraged producers to verify their inventory and losses and to document as best as possible where those losses took place. Producers should take pictures, write down lost cattle's ID tag numbers if available, and get a head count. Noem commented that many people are still digging out and assessing damage, but she stressed that losses should be documented as soon as it is possible to do so and to capture as much information and detail as possible.
Additionally, Noem said that producers should have a third disinterested party verify their losses. This could be a neighbor, veterinarian, or someone other than a family member or paid farm or ranch employee. These third party verifiers should visually see the losses and write, sign, and date a note stating their name and verifying that they saw the losses and the number of cattle lost.
Producers should also keep any rendering receipts as another way to have a third party verify their losses.
Noem said that her office is communicating with industry representatives and individual producers across the affected area in western South Dakota and is working to identify opportunities for assistance.
Rep. Noem has been leading the push for reauthorization of livestock disaster programs. Noem has authored legislation that reauthorizes these programs in the pending Farm Bill which would retroactively cover livestock losses due to disasters such as this.