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Cattle producers dealt gut punch by winter weather

South Dakota Stockgrowers Association
C.J. Keene
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Cattle groups like the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association are urging ranchers in need of assistance to contact their local Farm Service Agency

While brutal cold and windchills freeze most industries, cattle producers are forced into the thick of the weather to sustain herds sometimes thousands strong.

Doris Lauing is the interim executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. She described last months winter storm in no uncertain terms.

“The last few weeks of December was brutal. It put a setback on some of our calves in the feeding because, number one, you could barely get to feed," Lauing said. "We went from 55 below windchill factors to the next week 50 above. That’s hard on the livestock, that’s hard on humans. We can’t predict what the future is going to be for the weather. Hoping for green grass this spring.”

Lauing said producers are eligible for government assistance to bridge the gap.

"Our ranchers are trying to haul in hay," Lauing said “Our government is providing some assistance so please contact your farm service agencies. They’re helping to pay on some of the trucking – not on the feed itself but the trucking. That’s given us a little bit of help to be able to get to the spring.”

Along with that, country-of-origin labeling remains a major issue for producers looking at the Farm Bill this year.

“It is mandatory," Lauing said. "When you can go to the grocery store and your fish has where it comes from, why not beef?”

Lauing said for the South Dakota legislative session, branding regulations will be at the top of the organizations to-do list.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture