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...thousands of ranchers who last week watched helplessly as a killer early-autumn blizzard decimated 80,000 head of cattle. Calling it the state's worst economic disaster in decades, officials say the storm has ravaged South Dakota's $7-billion livestock industry
After the weather dramatically swung from 80-degree temps to a blizzard, cattle herds were decimated as ranchers were unprepared for such conditions. And as with the Hurricane Sandy and Oklahoma tornadoes, we see folks asking for assistance to their own personal region on the basis of federal help given to other regions (while sometimes voting against other regions' aid but asking for aid themselves).


Yet Washington's shutdown has deprived people here of a traditional safety net: Congress hasn't passed a new farm bill to subsidize agricultural producers, and the lockout means legislators won't be voting on the topic any time soon.


Still, he's frustrated and feels that federal lawmakers have turned their backs on the nation's heartland in a time of need.

"We're just a bunch of ranchers from South Dakota — it's hard for our voices to be heard," he said, sitting at the kitchen table at dawn Friday, drinking coffee, fielding calls from fellow cattlemen. "You see crises across the country, the hurricanes and tornadoes, and officials are right on top of it. But something of this magnitude, that has just about leveled this part of the country, and there's nothing."

Many residents in this conservative region had supported the government shutdown as a way to make Washington more fiscally responsible. "But one appropriate role for these guys is to lend a hand after disasters like this," Christen said, "and they're not here."

on another note, the fact that the weather swung so wildly in the course of only a few days should make us wonder what effect climate change could be having on this kind of unusual freak storm. Even the ranchers have acknowledged that this is not normal weather, and most of them probably deny climate change.

EDIT: I understand and empathize with those in comments who are displeased with a GOP constituency that seems ok with taking federal funds, but denying them to other storm victims (or other agencies). Having said that, let's be clear that it is strictly a GOP STRATEGY to shut down the govt to protest spending. Democrats, independents, and all moderates should understand that any denial of aid to ranchers (or kids, disabled, etc) should be done through a legitimate political process, not a shutdown. So even if Dems wanted to cut funding to ranchers for bailouts, they would not do so by shutdown. Meteor Blades is pointing out in comments that Democratic constituencies are also affected by this cattle die-off, so it would be best to think of this situation as not merely a disaster hurting GOP voters, but everyone.

Nobody wins in this shutdown, be they opponents of the New Deal or proponents of it. And the moral for GOP voters like these ranchers to learn is this: shutdowns have consequences.

Originally posted to BikingForKarma on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 01:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by South Dakota Kos.

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