- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A state program in South Dakota that subsidizes livestock loans for ranchers with limited equity is lowering interest rates for producers hit hard by an early October blizzard.

Qualifying ranchers in 25 counties declared a federal disaster because of the storm that killed more than 40,000 cattle, sheep and horses are eligible for an interest rate of 2.75 percent on applications received before the end of last year. That’s down from the current rate of 4 percent offered through the state Agriculture Department’s Livestock Loan Participation Program.

The storm that hit Oct. 4-5 impacted more than 600 ranchers, some of whom lost more than half of their herds.

“We recognize the devastation (the storm) had on our ranchers,” state Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch said. “The department can work within state rules and statutes to lower the interest rates even further for our producers while providing some comfort to their bankers.”

Eligible counties are Bennett, Butte, Campbell, Corson, Custer, Dewey, Fall River, Haakon, Harding, Jackson, Jones, Lawrence, Lyman, Meade, Mellette, Pennington, Perkins, Potter, Shannon, Stanley, Sully, Todd, Tripp, Walworth and Ziebach.

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