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Ag Secretary says new farm bill could help West River ranchers

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO AM) -  West River Ranchers, who suffered severe livestock losses in a blizzard two weeks ago, have limited options for recovery aid because there is no farm bill.

     Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Undersecretary Michael Scuse and Senator Tim Johnson will soon talk to ranchers about the devastating cattle losses.

     Vilsack says the disaster is made even more tragic because there is no disaster assistance program yet.  Because in the farm bill, he says, there could be retroactive livestock indemnity programs that could provide help and assistance.  He says producers who suffer damage today, in the Dakota blizzard and in last year's drought could benefit from a new farm bill.

     Vilsack says ranchers can apply for emergency disaster loans through the Farm Service Agency.

     The state estimates total cattle losses in Western South Dakota at between fifteen and thirty thousand head.

     A congressional conference committee is expected to begin work on the final farm bill later this month.

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