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Published February 07, 2014, 11:56 AM

Stock show raises funds for SD rancher relief

A Feb. 5 auction at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo in South Dakota for the Rancher Relief Fund brought in another $45,000 to add to the pot for relief for ranchers hit by the Oct. 4 blizzard.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A Feb. 5 auction at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo in South Dakota for the Rancher Relief Fund brought in another $45,000 to add to the pot for relief for ranchers hit by the Oct. 4 blizzard.

Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, one of the sponsoring entities of the Rancher Relief Fund, says the effort has collected nearly $4.5 million and has already distributed $4.1 million.

The Rancher Relief Fund was set up right after the blizzard by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Sheepgrowers Association and the Black Hills Area Community Foundation.

“It’s a really great joint effort to raise money and accept the donations that were coming in from so many places around the country,” Christen says.

Several breed shows associated with the stock show in Rapid City also came up with additional donations.

Chutes and Steigers

Items in the auction ranged from a Silencer Hydraulic Chute, sponsored by Zoetis animal Health and CATL Resources, to children’s pedal-style tractors, including one patterned after a chartreuse Steiger Panther tractor, from LeMar Toys. Bidders were able to get tax deductions for donations to the Black Hills Area Foundation, for items that were donated by companies.

The Central States Fair Foundation provided a $10,000 match, and the Modern Woodmen of America provided a $20,000 match.

“It’s amazing to see how the vendors here and producers have stepped up,” Christen says. About 160 entities have donated more than $5,000 — some much more.

The relief money started showing up the day after the blizzard, Christen says.

“The other day I got a bag of coins in the mail — $3.70 — from a little girl,” Christen says. “It was what was left in the piggy bank after Christmas. We had kids in Hot Springs that trick-or-treated for the fund. So many great efforts across the board.”

First Interstate Bank, with several South Dakota branch operations including Rapid City, New Underwood and Sturgis, stepped up and donated 30 heifers that were auctioned off. Donations related to that effort totaled $540,000, she says. It was a huge amount of money but it came from all of the sale barns.

For information about the fund, visit www.RanchersRelief.org.

A separate Heifers for South Dakota program, started in Montana, has brought in about 1,000 head of livestock to be donated to producers.

“I know that’s given a lot of people hope,” Christen says. “The producers were grateful for the animals themselves, but also the knowledge that someone cared — the really heartfelt outpouring. That’s a big deal for someone to donate an animal, and for somebody to receive an animal is a big deal.”

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