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Associated Press, Published October 23 2013

Blizzard cattle losses will hit western South Dakota economy hard

RAPID CITY, S.D. – An early October blizzard that killed thousands of cattle in western South Dakota will have a staggering impact on the regional economy, the head of the state Stockgrowers Association said.

The cattle in the area before the blizzard were worth $550 million, with a potential economic impact of $1.7 billion in the region. But many of those cattle died in the storm, Stockgrowers Executive Director Silvia Christen told the Rapid City Council on Monday night.

State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven has estimated cattle losses at between 15,000 and 30,000. Affected ranchers also won’t be buying trucks, eating at restaurants and participating in activities, Christen said.

“This is going to have an impact on Rapid City. Most of these producers, their financial institutions are based here, their attorney services are here, their (cattle) feed,” she said.

About $300,000 has been donated to a relief fund set up since the Oct. 4 blizzard dumped up to 4 feet of snow on the region, Christen said.

“We’ve received donations from 48 states and three different countries, including some really generous donations from individuals who I know are scraping together to make that donation,” she said.