Drovers TV: Cattle Flood Losses Not Clear Yet in Nebraska

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Cattle stranded by flood waters as seen from a National Guard helicopter in Nebraska. ( Nebraska National Guard )

At the moment there have been no official cattle death loss projections released by government representatives following the mid-March blizzard and flooding event that hit Nebraska and surrounding states. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts did release an estimate that $400 million in damage was sustained by cattle producers in the state.

The economic impact released by Gov. Ricketts similarly falls in line with an overall livestock economic loss of $500 million estimated by Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Greg Henderson, editor of Drovers, says that while the monetary estimates don’t mention an exact head amount for cattle that were lost or if those estimates include other momentary losses to property, it can be surmised that the death loss is significant.

“If you use the $400 million and just equivalent that out to fed cattle, that would be 228,000 fed cattle lost,” Henderson relates.

Henderson does caution that type of death loss would likely be extreme.

Other widespread winter storms in the recent past did not eclipse the 100,000 head lost. For instance, the Goliath blizzard that hit New Mexico and Texas during December 2015 killed an estimated 40,000 dairy cattle and another 12,000 beef cattle. South Dakota’s Atlas blizzard during October 2013 killed 15,500 head in the state and another 3,000 animals in Nebraska.

It is also important to note that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue incorrectly told Fox Business Network on March 19 that “1 million calves” were lost to the storm. Perdue later backed away from that statement apologizing on Trent Loos’ news program Loos Tales for the inaccurate announcement.

“I made the mistake personally of propagating some misinformation regarding the number of cattle lost in Nebraska which was not accurate,” Perdue shared.

For more on the impact of the flooding in Nebraska watch the video above from AgDay.