Blizzard Could Bury Northwest Nebraska's Economy Through 2014

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

State officials say the blizzard that swept through northwest Nebraska last weekend could hurt the region's economy for more than a year.

Ranchers throughout the northern Panhandle spent the week counting their livestock losses after an unusual October blizzard dumped several feet of snow.

State Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis says the losses were far greater than people from outside the region realize and the losses could hurt ranching operations.

Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann says the area could see an economic impact that lasts a year or more. The losses remind him of a blizzard in the 1980s that wiped out one-fourth of his herd. In addition, a federal program that could help ranchers is closed because of the government shutdown.

The shutdown is also preventing farmers from getting needed assessments of crop damage from the October 4th tornadoes. As many as nine storms crisscrossed the region flattening thousands of acres of corn and soybeans in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

Workers in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency have been idled by the shutdown. A damage assessment by the FSA is one of the first steps for farmers who sustained losses to qualify for low-interest emergency loans or debris-removal assistance.

State officials say farmers should contact their local FCA offices and follow the usual damage-reporting process once the government re-opens.

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