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Farmers and ranchers expect losses due to unexpected snow storm

Posted: 6:29 PM, Oct 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-03 14:36:54-04

People along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front continue to dig out after last weekend’s snowstorm dumped as much as four feet of snow in some areas.

“We were able to get feed up to them this afternoon,” said Gene Curry, a rancher near Valier. “We took a big front wheel assist tractor and bale processor and hauled some hay up. The highway is bare but that’s the only thing is bare.”

Gene Curry and his family ranch near Valier had cattle on a pasture near Browning when last weekend’s snowstorm hit. Even with death losses expected, he says another negative effect for ranchers is lost performance in this year’s calf crop which is headed to market soon.

“Instead those calves gaining weight now when they should be, you know, they should be just putting on pounds like crazy, they're losing weight here for a few days and you just never gain that back,” Curry said. “So, it just compounds. You know, you come in with lighter calves, they're worth less.”

Ranchers weren’t the only ones impacted. Kevin Bradley and his family farm north of Cut Bank still had one-third of their wheat crop yet to harvest when the snow began to fly.

“The quantity probably and the quality is going to be affected for sure,” Bradley said. “There was a lot of the acres that didn't get swathed, and so that even makes it more difficult to get it up off the ground.”

With producers already facing the stress of low livestock and commodity prices, this early winter storm is one they could have gone without.