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Facing 'significant' ag losses, Wyoming asks USDA for help

Photograph of a snow covered cow standing in a snow storm
mellangatang/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Stock image of a snow-covered cow.

Wyoming’s winter season started early.

For the last couple of months, persistent windy winter weather conditions and none of the snow melt you’d usually see during a typical Wyoming winter has forced producers to make difficult decisions says state ag department spokesman Derek Grant.

"Producers had to start feeding supplemental feed to the livestock much earlier and more frequently than they usually do," he said. "And along with that it’s drastically limited their access to a lot of their winter range options."

Earlier this month Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon requested a disaster declaration from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to aid the state’s producers impacted by weeks of sustained cold, wind and snowfall.

In his letter, Gordon writes the state's livestock producers are "facing extraordinary losses and increased costs."

'The severity of winter conditions and unusually long periods of impact have caused significant distress to our livestock industry," he writes. "These conditions are impacting every county in Wyoming."

Grant says an ag disaster declaration from the USDA would open up more options for Wyoming producers, including low interest loans through existing USDA programs.

Right now Grant says the greatest need is just some warm weather.

"Just trying to melt off some of this snow and try and be able to go out and really see what happened, what’s going on out there," he said.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.