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Rodeo Industry Pleads For Help From Legislature

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SD LRC

Bullfighter Gus Kronberg said he lost jobs at 16 rodeos that have been canceled during the pandemic.

That’s cost him more than $10,000. And he said people throughout the rodeo community are reeling.

“It’s hard for me to understand and wrap my mind around the kind of loss our whole industry has suffered," Kronberg said.

People who make their living in the rodeo industry testified Monday to the Legislature's Ag and Natural Resources Committee. The committee is one of several taking testimony about proposed uses of federal coronavirus relief funds.

Stock contractors from Korkow Rodeos and Sutton Rodeo both testified. Each said they’ve lost six figures in revenue during the pandemic because of canceled rodeos. But they still have to feed their animals, so their expenses have not decreased.

Amy Muller, of Sutton Rodeos, said the company has had trouble getting enough help from existing government aid programs.

“We are a small business. We’re also an ag business. And we’ve fallen into the cracks between those two departments in several aspects," Muller said. "We have experienced great difficulty finding programs that our business can qualify for.”

At the end of the hearing, the Ag and Natural Resources Committee passed a recommendation. It urges the Appropriations Committee to make sure people in the rodeo industry can access upcoming state aid programs funded by federal dollars.

State government received $1.25 billion in aid from the federal government. About half of that money is still up for grabs, and legislators are in talks with the Governor's Office about ways to spend it.

-Seth Tupper is SDPB's business and economic development reporter.

Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.
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