In this file:
· Nebraska scrambles to clear away cattle carcasses scattered by flooding
· U.S. farmers, still reeling from floods, face new storm
Nebraska scrambles to clear away cattle carcasses scattered by flooding
By United Press International (UPI)
via Gephardt Daily (UT) - April 11, 2019
EVANSVILLE, Ind., April 11 (UPI) — Nebraska ranchers and state officials are scrambling to clear away an untold number of dead cattle that either froze in the March blizzard or drowned in the subsequent flooding.
Between the two catastrophic weather events, thousands of cattle likely perished, officials said. Many were carried away in fast-moving flood waters, leaving their carcasses strewn across the Nebraska countryside.
“Farmers are supposed to [dispose of their animals], but they don’t know where all their cows are,” said John Hansen, the president of the Nebraska Farmers Union. “And there are folks down river who have dead cows on their property that aren’t theirs. So, it’s awful.”
State officials are unwilling to speculate how many livestock were killed, but ranchers across the state reported losing large portions or, in some cases, entire herds. And the losses were compounded because the weather hit at the height of calving season — killing many newborn animals.
“It was bad, it was really bad,” said Sharon Henderson, with Platte Valley Pet Food, a Nebraska company the hauls away deceased livestock to be rendered into usable animal fat.
“At some of these places, the losses were so great we couldn’t even get it all in one day,” Henderson said. “We kept having to go back and back and back. The ranchers kept asking, ‘Are we done yet?’ And then they’d find more.”
The clean-up is far from complete. As the flood waters recede, farmers continue to discover more carcasses. Some, they are able to remove. Others remain unreachable due to flooded ground or washed-out roads.
The large number of decomposing farm animals has Nebraska state officials concerned about possible impacts to the environmental and public health, said David Halderman, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s Land Management Division manager.
Decomposing animals release large amounts of phosphorus and nitrates that can contaminate ground and surface water. They also attract other scavenger animals, some of which carry diseases that are transmittable to humans.
So, while ranchers continue to remove animals from their own properties, several government agencies are working to find and remove the hundreds of lost carcasses that were swept away by the flood.
“We call them orphan carcasses because they land on people’s property who don’t own the animals,” Halderman said.
The project, managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and assisted by the state’s DEQ, is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of the nearly $1 billion in disaster relief the state requested.
Officials have surveyed almost the entire state by air, looking for the “orphan carcasses.” They’ve found around 600 so far, said Jalil Isa, a spokesman for the USDA. More are expected to turn up as property owners return to inspect their land.
“We don’t know how many animals we’re going to be able to get to,” Isa said. “Some of these locations are really challenging.”
Of those carcasses that are removed, most are sent to rendering facilities — plants that convert animal carcasses into byproducts like feed protein, said Rick Rasby, the associate dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office.
Carcasses that are too decomposed to be rendered can be sent to landfills, buried or composted in select locations, Rasby said.
Besides cleaning away dead cattle, ranchers are busy trying to find any animals that may have survived the flooding, and are now scattered around the region...
U.S. farmers, still reeling from floods, face new storm
Mark Weinraub, Reuters
April 10, 2019
CHICAGO, April 10 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers, who have spent the last month sifting through damage left by a storm that flooded more than a million acres of crop land, now face a blizzard ahead of planting season.
The storm hit the U.S. Rockies on Wednesday and was forecast to move eastward, threatening to bring as much as 30 inches of snow to western Minnesota and southeast South Dakota and another round of flooding to the Plains states.
“We are still recovering from the bomb cyclone and the floods,” said Craig Frenzen, a 55-year-old farmer from Fullerton, Nebraska. “This storm is testing our will, testing our mindset about what we are going to do with farmland that is left.”
Frenzen, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat and raises cattle, said about a sixth of his acreage was devastated by the floods in March. Even after the waters receded, his land was strewn with sand, silt and other debris that he estimated would cost $500 to $600 an acre to get back into production.
The latest storm would delay planting on his remaining acres and threaten some of the cattle, particularly young calves and pregnant cows. The herd must be constantly monitored throughout the storm to ensure that animals do not suffocate in the snow.
“It’s no sleep,” said Frenzen, who was setting up wind breaks on his operations as protection from hypothermia.
The storm will hit just as many farmers are making their final preparations to begin planting. Growers were hoping to get an early start this year as a rainy fall limited the amount of field work they could do after harvest, but the weather has not cooperated.
“It is a very wet snow,” said Drew Lerner, meteorologist with World Weather Inc. “It will melt and there is no place for that moisture to go.”
Spring delays threaten productivity at a time when the farm economy is already under severe stress and growers’ profits are falling due to the trade war with China...