Locking arms in the cattle business

Solidarity. There’s a word that conjures up many images; most of them political. But it was the first word that came to my mind when some western Iowa cattle producers said “We need to do something for those livestock producers in South Dakota.” And there was no political motive to it.

They are referring, of course, to those producers who lost cattle in that untimely weather event that blew over the plains of western South Dakota and Nebraska, and even into the eastern parts of Wyoming on Oct. 3-4.

Dead livestock are still being reported. Just this morning, I spoke with South Dakota State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven. He oversees the Animal Industry Board that is tracking losses from the October blizzard, and his current estimation for livestock losses is 20,000-30,000. So far, voluntary reporting by 192 producers added up to these losses: 14,881 cattle; 1,258 sheep; 288 horses; and 40 bison.

The Iowa cattle producers didn’t need to hear the numbers, though. Whether it’s one, one hundred or one thousand, cattle farmer take those losses hard, because they signed on to take care of those creatures. The emotional scars are likely to be there longer than the financial ones, and tending to both is important.

So, the Shelby County Cattlemen are stepping up. Here’s what they wrote: “The damage from the storm to the whole of the cattle industry will be long-lived. Our local county cattlemen’s organization has decided to make a donation to the relief efforts for the South Dakota producers.

“We have decided to donate the value of one bred heifer. (I’ll interject here; that’s about $2000.) While that may seem significant, we recognize that it is small in scope compared to the losses those producers have gone through.

“We would like to challenge the rest of the Iowa county cattlemen’s organizations to join us in making a donation to help out our neighbors, be it the value of a bred heifer or a feeder calf, or any amount that can be donated.”

The Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association doesn’t want any credit or spotlight. They want donations to roll-in to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation, which will send every single dollar onto the South Dakota Ranchers Relief as a hand-up from Iowans.

“Our county cattlemen’s organizations are strong, and when we lock arms together, we can get things done,” said Tim Graeve, president of the Shelby County group. Yep, that sealed it. Solidarity.

If you want to join in this effort from Iowa, individuals, businesses and county cattlemen’s groups can send a donation payable to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation. Make a notation that the money is for the South Dakota ranchers. Those donations can be mailed to Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation, 2055 Ironwood Ct., Ames, IA 50014. You can call ICF with questions and donations at 515-296-2266.

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