The devastation continues across the High Plains and Midwest as record flooding continues. And it’s wreaking havoc on Nebraska’s livestock industry, which could have an impact on Montana ranchers.
“The hard part about this that’s different than a hurricane or a tornado is it might be two, three, four weeks before people can assess the true nature and total amount of their damages,” said Nebraska Cattlemen Executive Vice President Pete McClymont.
He says roadways are washed out, feed yards are underwater and entire cattle herds have been washed away.
“From the cow-calf side of things, we’ve heard in Sherman County-which is in central Nebraska-a rancher had 35 pair that were in some low ground, and he knew he needed to move them to higher ground,” said McClymont. “And in the move, there was a local dam that was breached and he lost all 35 pairs.”
Montana is one of the great export markets for feeder cattle. The Montana Stockgrowers Association’s executive vice president, Jay Bodner, says the flooding and devastation to Nebraska’s cattle feeding industry will have an impact on Montana ranchers.
“We’re going to see those impacts of those feedlots that have been devastated by these flooding events,” said Bodner. “They’re not going to be able to potentially take cattle. Those feedlots have maybe just been wiped out. And then in addition to that, we’re going to see significant feed losses too so that feed just won’t be available to take some of those cattle to feed those out. So, it’s going to be a double hit really for the livestock industry and the feeding market, and that’s going to affect I think us potentially in Montana.”
Early loss estimates provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture show a $400 million impact to the state’s livestock industry.
The Nebraska Cattlemen group is working to assist cattle producers impacted by natural disasters by launching a new disaster relief fund. If you would like to offer assistance, visit www.nebraskacattlemen.org .
Reporting by Russell Nemetz for MTN News