Ranchers affected by blizzard are encouraged to apply for relief - KOTA Territory News

Ranchers affected by blizzard are encouraged to apply for relief fund


Due to many donations within South Dakota and across the country, the Rancher Relief Fund will be able to distribute money to those who suffered cattle losses during the October blizzard. However, some ranchers are hesitant to apply for the relief because they say others deserve it more.

It's another day on the ranch for Zach West. Two months ago, the area was hit hard by the blizzard. West lost 60 percent of his cattle.

"On a normal year maybe two percent, three percent. You'll lose them regardless of whether it's good or bad. Last storm we just got way more snow than we thought," said West.

Help could be on the way. West says he has decided to apply for the Rancher Relief Fund. 

"Nobody wants to need help but sometimes. That's the way it is. Then I talked to a couple of guys, the guys that are putting into it, and of course they said young guys need to apply for it," said West.

Right now there's more than $2 million in the Rancher Relief Fund. But organizers say some ranchers are reluctant to apply.

"In the true spirit of South Dakota ranching community the responses we've gotten since the blizzard, as I'm talking to producers and friends of mine and members of the stockgrowers, their first response is we got a hit but we had neighbors that are much worse off," said Silvia Christen, Executive Director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.

Christen said this attitude speaks highly for the ranchers, but those affected should apply.

"The fund is there to help the ranchers, anyone who had a loss of any kind."

The fund is administered through the Black Hills Area Community Foundation and some ranchers. They have to decide how to divvy up the money.

"Based on the ones who have the most losses and hopefully we can help as many producers as possible," said Christen.

As for West, he's appreciative to those who donated the money.

"We want to thank the people that are putting into, of course we all would if we could," said West. 

Ranchers have until December 31st to apply for help from the Rancher Relief Fund. To apply visit the Rancher Relief Fund website of call 877-708-4357.

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