Thune says ranchers hit by Oct. blizzard could get help by April

    RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - U.S. Sen. John Thune says South Dakota ranchers hurt by an early October blizzard could get help through the new farm bill as early as April.
     The farm bill passed by Congress last week restarts a livestock disaster program that had expired. Lawmakers have pressed the Agriculture Department to expedite implementation of the provision, and Thune said this week he hopes checks can start going out in April.
     Western South Dakota ranchers lost an estimated 43,000 cattle and other livestock in the Oct. 4-5 blizzard. The farm bill provision will reimburse eligible ranchers for up to 75 percent of their losses. 
     Pennington County rancher Marvin Jobgen tells KOTA-TV he worries it will be 75 percent of what cows were worth in October. He says market values are higher now.

 AP-WF-02-14-14 1225GMT

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