The AgChat Foundation, American Farm Bureau and other partners this week announced the formation of a fund to provide financial relief to farmer and rancher victims of this month's severe blizzard.
The unexpected early October storm swept through South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming killing thousands of head of cattle and sheep, with some estimates ranging from 50,000 to 60,000 deaths.
The organizations hope to reach a funding goal of $500,000, which will be donated to rancher-led organizations in South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming to help farm families recover from economic losses.
The Rancher Relief Fund established by Black Hills Community Foundation will also be a benefactor of the AgChat Foundation's fundraising efforts. As a 501(c)3 organization, all donations to the Rancher Relief Fund are tax deductible.
According to South Dakota rancher Jodene Shaw, the blizzard and subsequent loss of livestock is "shocking to the core." In a blog post, Shaw explains that ranchers affected can't go "buy new cows" and start over, pointing to the economic impact that many ranchers are feeling.
Search and rescue efforts have been widely inhibited due to the snow depths so full-scale ramifications of the storm may not be seen for some time, according to the AgChat Foundation.