South Dakota and portions of Wyoming and Nebraska were hit earlier this month with what is being called one of the most devastating blizzards in history.
The storm resulted in the death of tens of thousands of head of livestock. For some ranchers, reported herd losses are 50-90 percent or more.
To provide relief for producers affected by the blizzard, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association have established the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund.
"While we're heartened at the outpouring of support coming from around the country and offers of cattle donations, we are encouraging folks to consider financial donations at this time," says Jodie Anderson, executive director for the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association.
Anderson added, "With winter bearing down, those affected are struggling with clean-up operations in addition to the normal fall roundup, weaning and pre-winter preparations. Our focus at present is financial, physical and psychological support for producers slogging through the gruesome clean-up process."
The fund is administered by the Black Hills Area Community Foundation in cooperation with the founding livestock organizations. Find more details at www.sdcattlemen.org or contribute online at www.giveblackhills.org, and search for "Rancher's Relief Fund."
To contribute with a credit card, visit www.giveblackhills.org/27677 and click on the "Donate Now" button.
Checks made payable to "Ranchers Relief Fund" may also be mailed to the Black Hills Area Community Foundation, P.O. Box 231, Rapid City, SD 57709.
A financial donation to the Ranchers Relief Fund will help with immediate expenses incurred such as carcass removal, fence repair and roundup/hauling of strays.
The South Dakota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SDVOAD) is handling the organization of material and labor donations.
Within South Dakota, call 1-877-708-4357 with offers of equipment or labor. Out-of-state volunteers may call 1-605-274-1454.
Be prepared to give name, contact information, and specifics of what will be donated. This information will be matched with those needing assistance as they are identified in the coming days.
"This is going to be a long road to recovery for ranchers who were in the impacted area," Anderson says.
Anderson concluded, "The next monumental task will be carcass removal before winter comes. Beyond that it's trying to help determine what rancher's financial and emotional hurdles are, and how we can help get them back on their feet."