Nebraska cattle ranchers offered relief after bad year of wildfires

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Wildfires have caused damage across the state this year, hitting our farmers and ranchers hard.

There is help out there, but the deadline to apply for assistance is fast approaching.

Nebraska Cattlemen is offering aid through its disaster relief fund.  Funds came from various donors.

“Even though the fires are over, the reality of it is that the devastation still impacts producers,” said Pete McClymount, executive vice president of Nebraska Cattlemen.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Association said the last time Nebraska saw wildfires at this large of a scale was in 2012, a decade ago.

From Jan. 1 to April 15 this year, there were 76 red flag warnings issued in Nebraska.

“That more than doubled the number of red flag warnings that were issued over that same period in 2012,” said Chris Schroeder, NEMA’s community outreach unit supervisor.

Nebraska typically has one single-engine air tanker on standby for four months out of the year.  This year, it has had two on standby all year.

Nebraska Cattlemen wants to help those impacted, even if they are not members.

“It doesn’t include buildings and structures because those can be insured,” McClymount said.

Instead, the money is for ranchers who lost livestock, fencing, feed and land to the fires.

The money is coming from various donors.  The amount you receive may vary.

“We will establish a disaster relief review committee,” McClymount said. “From that, we will go through and assess all the applications. Then once that has been determined by that group members, then those dollars will be distributed immediately.”

The southwest part of the state has seen the most fire devastation this year so far.

“It’s the rural area where even a couple thousand acres is almost entirely farmland, it’s pastures, and all of these are small businesses in those areas,” Schroeder said. “This is the lifeblood of those communities; it’s critical infrastructure in those places. Even if we or they are able to take care of the incident without loss of property or loss of life, it’s still loss of acreages, it’s loss of farmland, it’s loss of fencing.”

The deadline to apply for assistance through the Nebraska Cattlemen is this Friday.

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