FARMERS and ranchers in northeastern Nebraska continue to inventory losses following a pair of June 15 tornadoes that touched down in what is considered the most livestock-dense area of the state.
Midweek tornados also tore through South Dakota, destroying small towns and farms along the way.
Sources assisting with assessment and cleanup at the Herman Dinklage Inc. cattle feedlot near Wisner, Neb., told Feedstuffs that early reports that 300-plus head of cattle had died in the storm were accurate. Some reports put that number much higher.
A veterinarian has been on site since the storm passed to advise feedlot personnel how to humanely handle any remaining injured animals.
Most buildings on site at the feedlot were destroyed, including the feed handling facilities. A home on the property also was heavily damaged.
Nebraska director of agriculture Greg Ibach is advising producers with crop and livestock losses to keep detailed records, including third-party verification, whenever possible.
Ibach encouraged producers to contact their local Farm Service Agency office to find out what specific verification is needed.
Until the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, Nebraska Department of Agriculture and several other state and federal agencies complete their assessments, no estimates of damages — including livestock and poultry losses — will be issued.
Damage to other farm sites and livestock facilities in rural areas of Nebraska surrounding Stanton, Cumming, Wayne and Dixon counties continue to be reported, including one hog farm that was destroyed near Wisner and several chicken barns that were demolished near Wakefield.
Pete McClymont, executive vice president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Assn., said the farmstead of J.D. and Deb Alexander "was extensively damaged, most likely a total loss. " Alexander served as president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. in 2012.
In Pilger, Neb., Farmers Co-op was leveled by the storms, and grain from the 1.6 million bu. grain handling facility was scattered throughout the rubble in the town.
No official grain loss estimates were available at press time as volunteer cleanup in the area has been focused on helping residents in the community who have lost their homes.
A second storm on June 16 hit Nebraska with yet another EF2 tornado, causing considerable damage to homes, farm structures and crops.
Preliminary reports from area residents indicated that a dairy near Hartington, Neb., suffered some livestock losses in that storm.
In the wake of two straight nights of destructive storms in northeastern Nebraska, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced assistance for producers who suffered livestock mortalities from the tornadoes.
With hundreds of cattle and poultry lost during the storms, NRCS state conservationist Craig Derickson said $100,000 in assistance is available to help producers properly dispose of animal carcasses. Producers have until July 18 to apply.
This assistance is available through a special livestock mortality initiative of the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program. It is currently available to producers in Stanton, Wayne, Dixon, Thurston, Cuming and Cedar counties in northeastern Nebraska, but more counties could be added to the eligibility area if additional severe storms strike before the July 18 signup deadline.
"Livestock producers with animal mortalities need to come to the NRCS office and sign up for the special initiative in order to be eligible to participate in the program," Derickson said. "It is important for producers to understand the technical requirements for the animal composting practice. We want to make sure that producers have the assistance and information needed to dispose of animal carcasses in a manner that doesn't cause health and environmental concerns."
Local NRCS offices may be contacted for more details.