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SD Rancher Relief Fund nearing $1M

RAPID CITY (AP) — A fund aimed at helping South Dakota ranchers who lost livestock in an early autumn blizzard is nearing $1 million.

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The Rapid City Journal reported the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund began taking applications Friday from livestock producers who need assistance. The 45-day application period closes on Dec. 31.

Livestock deaths in the Oct. 4 storm that dumped up to 4 feet of snow in the western part of the state have totaled more than 15,000 animals, officials said

Organizers said the funds collected will not help ranchers recover fully but the money will help with some immediate needs.

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Cattlemen’s Association and Sheep Growers Association are among the groups taking part in the relief effort.

Officials said donations have ranged from $1 to $100,000 and have come from almost every state, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, the newspaper reported.

Organizers said a 9-year-old Hot Springs girl recently delivered a can containing $640 that she collected by going door-to-door on Halloween.

The outpouring of support for ranchers “really touches everybody,” Stockgrowers Association President Bob Fortune said.

All applications for assistance will be processed through South Dakota Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters. Information will be kept confidential.

Recommendations of families who need assistance are also welcome. Ranchers are private people, Fortune said. Some will be reluctant to disclose their losses, and others will find it hard to reach out for help.

“Hopefully, everyone that’s needing some help out there will get an application,” said Steve Clements, a director for the Sheep Growers Association.