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OUR VIEW: Step up, help SD’s ranchers in need

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opinion Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
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OUR VIEW: Step up, help SD’s ranchers in need
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

People are coming together to help South Dakota ranchers, and lord knows they could use a helping hand right now.

The early October blizzard that hit the western portion of our state was devastating to South Dakota’s cattle herd. According to some estimates, upwards of 30,000 cattle died in that nasty storm, which began with a drenching rain and ended with snow — in some places, up to 4 feet. Meanwhile, cattle were still on their summer ranges, adding to the trouble.

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Tuesday, we reported on programs that have been set up to aid South Dakota ranchers. One is Heifers for South Dakota, which is collecting donated cows from ranchers elsewhere in the country to give to producers who lost animals in the storm. So far, ranchers from several states have pledged 425 cows. Truckers have been coming forward to donate their time and equipment and, sometimes, even the cost of fuel.

Another program is the Rancher Relief Fund, which has hopes to raise $1 million by the beginning of 2014. Several livestock organizations are backing Rancher Relief, as well as Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

Meanwhile, many other efforts are under way, including at several area livestock auction houses. Mitchell Livestock Auction has collected about $10,000 so far, and it also will host a rollover auction — in which bidders buy a calf, only to donate it and bid on it again — on Nov. 7. Other rollover auctions that we know of are scheduled in Platte and Kimball, while people in Letcher are organizing a barrel racing event Nov. 9.

And at West Cubby’s, a local gas station, customers are being asked to donate to relief efforts.

South Dakotans have answered the call when others needed help. We specifically recall donation efforts of hay and other feed for producers in other regions who were experiencing severe drought.

Now, South Dakotans need some help again. Trouble is, we’re not great at asking for it, so we worry who will hear the call if it’s not shouted from the rooftops.

We challenge everyone to make a contribution of some sort to help South Dakota ranchers. Whether it’s $10 personally, or $100 per business — or something to be auctioned — every bit helps.

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