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South Dakota ranchers say drought aid data is inaccurate


Associated Press - April 6, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Some ranchers in western South Dakota say data that determines their eligibility for federal drought aid is inaccurate.  Local ranchers raised the issue with Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota during a Wednesday discussion over a federal farm bill draft.

Rancher Linda Gilbert said her insurance benefits during a drought year depend partly on conditions more than 50 miles away at weather stations operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. Agriculture Department's Pasture, Rangeland, Forage insurance program doesn't accept data from other weather stations closer to her ranch near Buffalo, she said.

"It's completely knot-headed," said Mark Tubbs, who ranches near Edgemont. Some data determining drought severity in the area comes from 40 miles away in Custer, he said.

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association encouraged members to collect data for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network. The network sends data to a variety of entities, including certain federal agencies.
But only some USDA programs accept data from the network, said Silvia Christen, the association's executive director.

Thune said the situation is an example of federal bureaucracies operating "multiple, duplicative and redundant systems."
"There's got to be a better way to be more comprehensive and more consistent," he said. "So we'll take a look at it."



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