What happens when a freak snow storm (can we still call them freak?) hits the northern plains in early October? Tens of thousands of livestock freeze to death in the cold. But while the federal government usually provides aide to cattle ranchers after such disasters, it can’t right now because of the GOP Government Shutdown of 2013.
via Mother Jones
After catastrophes, livestock producers typically turn to the federal Farm Service Agency’s livestock indemnity program, which offers compensation for lost cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, and other livestock. As long as the government stays shut, FSA offices nationwide will be shut too, leaving ranchers without support. A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Agriculture said the most their office can do is offer advice on how to document and carry out a cleanup effort. Even before the shutdown, the insurance program was already threatened by delayed passage of a new federal farm bill, which allots money for a range of food and ag-related programs from food stamps to incentives to go organic.
It’s not widely recognized or mentioned — and I blame myself for this — but the farm bill also expired at midnight on October 1st when the federal government shutdown began.
Last week’s winter storm may have killed as many as 100,000 animals in South Dakota alone.