Resources available for Nebraska producers affected by wildfires

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

Resources available for Nebraska producers affected by wildfires

Cattle producers in central Nebraska affected by recent wildfires that burned over 71,000 acres are invited to attend an informational meeting to learn about resources available to help them recover.

The meeting is Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center in North Platte and will include a free meal sponsored by Nebraska Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. Please RSVP to the Lincoln Logan-Logan-McPherson County Extension office.

Producers will hear from the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Cattlemen and others who can answer questions about assistance programs and cattle and range management after a fire.

"Our message to producers at this point is to not get in a hurry," said Bruce Solko, Lincoln County FSA executive director. "As unpleasant as it is, they need to document any livestock losses with photos or documentation of loss by a veterinarian. Producers can receive compensation for the loss of value of an animal affected by the fire when they are sold or die up to 30 days after the fire. Any losses that are not immediate will need a veterinarian statement as to cause of death. Animals that were sold because of the fire require sale receipts."

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen declared a disaster for central Nebraska on Feb. 26.

FSA and NRCS have programs that can help producers with replacing fence, and funding management alternatives to grazing burned areas, in addition to livestock losses. However, those take time to put in motion and are subject to approval, so those agencies recommend producers who are thinking of using those programs talk to staff at their local offices before buying supplies or taking any action.

Miller Repair in Maxwell, Maline Seed and Fence in Gothenburg and Lincoln County Cattlemen are part of the community efforts coordinating donations of fencing, feed, windbreak materials or sheds, money and labor.

Maria Miller, whose husband, Ivan, has owned Miller Repair for 38 years said they did this during the floods in 2019 and are happy to help their neighbors. Their place was close to the fire, but it missed them, so Millers can focus on the relief efforts for those who weren’t so lucky. Ivan knows most of the people affected personally, as they’re customers or neighbors, so he’s making sure the donations are going only to those who need it, Maria said. One of their neighbors lost all of their calving facilities in the middle of calving season, so they’re looking for cattle sheds, windbreaks, corral materials, panels and anything else that can help them and other affected producers get beyond this already stressful season.

"It just rips your heart out," Maria said. "I’m thankful we can do this."

People have been generous with feed donations, but transporting the hay is a current need, Maria said.

Monetary donations can be made at Equitable Bank in North Platte, and those funds will be administered by the Lincoln County Cattlemen.

Randy Saner, UNL Extension educator in Lincoln-Logan-McPherson Counties, said his office is available to help connect producers with resources to get through this time. "You hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but there are other people who have been through it," Saner said. "We learn all we can from each situation like this so we can share that information. We have resources that can help producers find feed, make a plan for their forage recovery, figure rations and how much feed they’ll need, address animal health issues and manage their own stress. We are also working with the organizations that are providing relief to make sure producers who need help are getting connected to the help available."

Check out for online resources addressing post-fire range and cattle management, fencing, donations, stress management, fire prevention and preparedness.

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