BILLINGS — Federal data shows that Montana ranchers lost more than 37,000 cattle last winter when heavy snow piled up and lingered.
The Billings Gazette reported Sunday that the federal Livestock Indemnity Program paid out $11.1 million for the loss of 37,352 cattle in Montana in 2018. The U.S. Farm Service Agency says that’s more than four times the amount paid out for losses in the previous four years combined.
Half of the deaths were in a swath of Montana across six counties blanketed by snow up to 30 inches (76 centimeters) deep.
Ranchers and the Farm Service Agency acknowledge that there were more weather-related livestock deaths that didn’t qualify for compensation.
The losses for this past winter, which included historically cold temperatures, haven’t been calculated yet.