Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, says an early October blizzard that killed tens of thousands of cattle in western South Dakota will have a staggering economic impact. Christen told the Rapid City Council that the direct economic impact of the cattle loses could be half a billion dollars, and the indirect impact could be $1.7 billion. A relief fund set up in the wake of the October 4th blizzard that dumped up to 4 feet of snow in the region has about $300,000 in donations so far. This afternoon, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services Michael Scuse and other USDA officials are meeting with South Dakota ranchers and producers for a discussion of the impact of the October blizzard. Christen has organized local producers and representatives from farming and ranchers organizations to share their stories.