(From left to right) Dan Whetham, FSA district director, Scuse, Rausch and Della Meder discuss the hardships faced by ranchers who were hit by the Atlas blizzard.
This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Richard and Susan Rausch lost nearly 70 percent of their cow-calf operation when Winter Storm Atlas dumped three feet of snow on the western part of South Dakota, killing thousands of cattle across the region. The Rausch’s 300-head of cattle dwindled down to about 90.
“You just can’t put into words what the devastation was like following the blizzard,” said Richard. “The roads were closed from snow drifts, but once we were able to get out with the tractor, there was dead livestock wherever you went. Our neighbor’s livestock was found dead in our yard and our cattle took cover in rough country at the start of the blizzard and they ended up drifting five to six miles away.” Read more »
Jake and Jondra Shadowen and family use conservation programs to improve their Benton, Ky. ranch. (NRCS photo)
When Jake and Jondra Shadowen from Benton, Ky. got married 14 years ago, they decided to buy a 26-acre ranch with a goal of raising a healthy herd of cattle. Today, thanks to hard work and conservation, they maintain a strong herd of 26 cattle, up from 11 when they first began.
They worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to implement a rotational grazing system, which breaks up large pastures into smaller ones. A rotational grazing system allows for grass to grow faster and quicker and prevents soil from becoming prone to erosion. Read more »
Beginning farmer Ann Whitehead on her 100 acres of agricultural land near Wellsville, Mo. NRCS photo.
When Ann Whitehead acquired 100 acres of agricultural land near Wellsville, Mo., it gave her the opportunity to fulfill her dream of raising cattle. Since then she has been taking advantage of technical and financial assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to ensure that the land will be productive for future generations of people who might share her dream.
“I grew up on a farm, but I was more in charge of the chickens,” Whitehead said. “Raising cattle is something I always wanted to do, so I told my kids ‘I’m not getting any younger, and I’m going to do it.’”
Whitehead took advantage of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that provides funding for beginning farmers, ranchers and forest landowners associated with planning and implementing conservation measures. Read more »
Chuck Petersen, NRCS rangeland management specialist (left), and Reggie Premo, Shoshone-Paiute Tribal member, discuss future conservation plans on Premo’s ranch located on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada. USDA photo.
On the Duck Valley Reservation of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, alfalfa and cattle are the two major agricultural enterprises of the 289,000-acre reservation near the border of Idaho and Nevada.
Reggie Premo, a member of the Shoshone-Paiute, raises cattle and grows alfalfa on the same land where he grew up. Premo works with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to use water wisely.
When his father passed away in 2001, he took over the day-to-day ranching operations. He immediately began working to get all of the ranch’s acreage back into production. It’s taken a team effort. Read more »
Blanket flowers are one of flowers seeded on the Drake ranch.
Lester and Bonnie Drake wanted to increase the plant diversity on their Campbell County, Wyo. ranch, and they were able to help pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, in the process.
With more types of grasses, more food is available for cattle at different times. And for the pollinators, more grasses lead to more blooms.
The Drakes were the first to establish pollinator habitat in their county with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. They’re enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program, the agency’s Farm Bill program geared to conservationists who want to take their conservation investment to the next level. The program provides technical and financial assistance for landowners wanting to implement conservation. Read more »
From left: Flavio Garza, NRCS district conservationist, Jorge Espinoza, and Henry Gonzalez, NRCS rangeland management specialist, visit on Espinoza’s ranch about forage establishment. USDA Photo.
Despite the ongoing drought in part of Texas, there are always people who want to get into the cattle raising business. A growing segment of these new beef producers are non-traditional small-tract landowners, such as Jorge Espinoza of Laredo.
Espinoza just purchased his first 50 acres, and he quickly learned that if he was to be successful, he needed expert advice.
Through word of mouth, Espinoza heard about USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency that works with farmers and landowners to implement conservation on private lands. Read more »