South Dakota Stockgrowers Association
Two 20-foot-deep disposal pits opened in western South Dakota on Monday to help ranchers dispose of tens of thousands of livestock carcasses piling up since an early October blizzard decimated herds. Up to 4 feet of snow fell in the Black Hills area during the storm, killing at least 10,000 to 20,000 head of livestock, state officials say. The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association estimates this part of the state lost at least 5 percent of its cattle, which is mostly raised for beef. Normally, the federal government would provide financial assistance to ranchers in a crisis of this magnitude, but the farm bill expired during the government shutdown.