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Ranchers prepare for possible historic storm

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The debate about sustainable diets has focused on meat production, which requires lots of land and water to grow grain to feed livestock. It also contributes to methane emissions. But the Cabinet secretaries with final authority say the 2015 dietary guidelines won't include sustainability goals.

For many cattle ranchers, memories of the April 1997 blizzard are still fresh.

For many ranchers across the state, the 1997 April blizzard still “burns in the back of their minds” as they prepare their herds for another historic storm arriving this week.

The impending spring blizzard could bring up to 24 inches of snow to parts of the region, along with strong winds.

Julie Ellingson is the executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. She says storms of this magnitude are very significant for ranchers as they continue to care for their cattle, but this storm is arriving in the middle of calving season. Ellingson says this leaves newborn livestock in a vulnerable position.

"On a day like today as we prepare for this impending big storm, it sounds like it will impact pretty well statewide - things are abuzz on farms and ranchers as people prepare. It might be preparing calf shelters or bedding barns, or bringing cattle closer to the yard or near wind protection - all kinds of things to hopefully get ahead of what could be a pretty incredible winter system. And again - the significance of it, because of those newborn calves and the extra needs of those animals now are paramount."

Ellingson says though the conditions will be dangerous, the snow should bring some much needed moisture back to grazing pastures.

It is estimated that 123,000 cattle valued at $59 million were lost in the 1997 April blizzard twenty five years ago.

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