As a nonprofit organization, the foundation is able to gather donations and provide 100 percent of the contributions to rancher-led organizations in South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming, including the Rancher Relief Fund established by Black Hills Community Foundation. Funds will be equally distributed between the states.

The foundation has received the support of many agricultural organizations and agribusinesses, such as American Farm Bureau Federation and Tyson Foods. Additionally, the foundation is working with rancher run organizations in South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming.

While preliminary accounts are still limited, some officials believe that upwards of 60,000 head of cattle and sheep were affected in the storm.

“Ranching families across the prairie are experiencing the trauma and loss like never before,” says South Dakota rancher Jodene Shaw. “The loss of livestock is shocking to the core. Our hearts are raw … you don’t just simply go ‘buy new cows’ and start over.”

She points to the economical impact on families, but strongly voices concern over the toll on ranchers’ emotional investments. Search and rescue efforts have been widely inhibited due to the snow depths, so full-scale ramifications of the storm may not be seen for some time.


The unified campaign has been established at the foundation’s giving site. As a 501(c)3 organization, all donations to the Rancher Relief Fund are completely tax deductible. Additional organizations and brands may partner in these efforts. Inquiries about partnering or giving can be directed to Executive Director Emily Zweber at (651) 341-0430.  end mark

—From AgChat Foundation news release