Topeka, Kan. — Governor Laura Kelly today announced actions her administration has taken and resources that are available to support cattle feeders in southwestern Kansas whose cattle died over the weekend due to heat stress. A combination of temperatures spiking in a short amount of time, high humidity, and little-to-no wind caused cattle losses last weekend – a rare event in an area that is usually ideal for cattle feeding.
“I have directed state agencies to do everything in their power to help Kansas cattle feeders who lost cattle due to heat stress,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “From expediting burial permits to reaching out to cattle producers across the state, my Administration is working to ease the impact of last weekend’s losses on the Kansas agricultural community.”
“We’re working as quickly as possible to assist facilities in safely disposing of the carcasses and to respond to the needs of impacted ranchers,” said Janet Stanek, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment. “In the last week, our staff has processed burial permits and worked with landfills to ensure that carcasses are disposed of properly.”
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam assured that the losses will not create a beef supply glitch.
“Last weekend’s losses reflect a very small percentage of the total fed cattle numbers in the state, so it will not impact meat prices for consumers,” said Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam. “Regardless, this rare event will hit the feeders who owned the cattle quite hard. We have reached out to contacts in Southwest Kansas to offer our assistance and support.”
There are federal resources available to provide financial relief. Impacted cattle feeders are eligible for United States Department of Agriculture indemnity payments, which are made to compensate for the loss or destruction of certain animals and crops. Fatality insurance may also cover some of the losses.
Heat-related deaths in feedyards are rare because producers take precautions such as providing extra drinking water, altering feeding schedules so cattle are not digesting in the heat of the day, and avoiding moving cattle during the heat of the day.
“This was an unusual and unfortunate event. Cattle feeders continually work to mitigate all weather events, whether it’s excessive heat, snow, or wind, and it is always their goal to make sure their cattle are healthy so they can provide a good product for their families and for consumers,” said Matt Teagarden, Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas Livestock Association. “We appreciate the quick response from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to address this situation.”
Governor Kelly proclaimed May 2022 “Kansas Beef Month” at Lyons Ranch in Manhattan. Kansas is recognized across the nation and the world for raising healthy cattle and producing quality, nutritious beef. Beef cattle contribute nearly $13 billion annually to the state’s economy and Kansas exported more than $1.7 billion in fresh, chilled, and frozen beef to countries around the world last year.