Heitkamp Visits with Ranchers - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Heitkamp Visits with Ranchers

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Senator Heidi Heitkamp visited Hettinger this morning to talk to ranchers who lost livestock in this month's devastating winter storm. It's been weeks, but those ranchers in Adams and Perkins Counties are still waiting for help.

"Some cattle walked into a clay bank," South Dakota rancher Gary Frisvold said. "I guess there's 135 dead in that group."

A major problem is the absence of a new Farm Bill. That has kept ranchers from applying for money from the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which helps producers whose livestock die in a disaster.

"The cattle that are there are in such a state that they may never be identified," said U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. "So how do we prove up loss? How do we get the record keeping? How do we avoid people criticizing this process?"

Senator Heitkamp told ranchers that until the Bill is approved, they need to gather verifiable documentation of all their livestock, both living and dead. They can then send that information to the USDA Farm Service Agency, who will put it on file for LIP coverage until Congress passes a Farm Bill.

"I knew that North Dakota hadn't experienced the same level of loss [as South Dakota] but you know it doesn't matter," Heitkamp said. "If it's 10% of your herd in North Dakota, it's still a huge hit."

Both North and South Dakota ranchers came to the meeting in Hettinger to discuss various situations of dead or missing cattle.

"First my heifers were south of my place and they had protection," Frisvold explained. "But they drifted probably two miles and ended up in the neighbors."

Luckily, ranchers could get relief soon. Some state organizations want to give money to help out.

"We're considering right now making a dollar donation that we can guarantee will go to the cause and not to somebody's checkbook that doesn't need it," said Carson Kouba, North Dakota Farm Bureau District 9 Director.

Congress should approve a new Farm Bill by the end of the year, according to Senator Heitkamp.

 

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