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NDSA announces Atlas relief payout

Nearly six months after a winter storm, known as Atlas, hammered parts of North Dakota and South Dakota, a key disaster relief fund has made its final payout to affected ranchers.

Nearly six months after a winter storm, known as Atlas, hammered parts of North Dakota and South Dakota, a key disaster relief fund has made its final payout to affected ranchers.

Through a release from its foundation, the North Dakota Stockmen's Association announced Thursday that it has awarded close to $200,000 in assistance to North Dakota and South Dakota ranch families by way of its Aid for Atlas Disaster Relief Fund.

"We're really proud to have been able to provide this amount of direct relief to livestock producers," says Julie Ellingson, NDSA executive vice president. "We know what it's like to deal with a significant disaster of that nature. It warms our heart that so much generosity was expressed by our members and others in the community, and really across the country."

Dumping more than 2 feet of snow in some areas of southwest North Dakota and northwest South Dakota during the first week of October, the storm led to the deaths of thousands of cattle, sheep and horses in the region after they became stranded because of the storm, or lost in it.

Of the approximately $193,000 raised by way of the fund, about $163,000 was provided to North Dakota producers, Ellingson says. The North Dakota Stockmen's Foundation also contributed about $30,000 to the South Dakota Ranchers Relief Fund, according to the release.

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"The disaster relief applications were filled with stories of tragedy and triumph," says NDSA President Jason Zahn. "We empathize with what they went through to protect and care for their herds during that incredible storm. Atlas took a tremendous toll on many ranchers this year."

Zahn says contributions were collected from private individuals and businesses, civic organizations and church groups from around the region, as well as nationwide.

"Our mission at the stockmen's association and foundation is to support the beef industry," Ellingson says. "What better way to be able to do that than to bring together the people who wanted to help, and add some of the resources that we had in our own organizations, and connect them with the people in need. Atlas was significant storm that really took its toll on the livestock industry in southwestern North Dakota."

Ellingson adds that the reauthorization of livestock disaster assistance programs as part of the farm bill, which was passed earlier this year, also was a big step for North Dakota beef producers who were affected by the storm.

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