Bomb Cyclone Blizzard- Grass Valley Farms
Grass Valley Farms is owned and operated by the Klosterman family near David City, NE. The operation is made up of a 10,000 head feedyard, 500 cow/calf pairs, and about 7,000 acres of row crop.
Like every other storm that producers dealt with this winter, the Klosterman’s did everything in their power to prepare for the Bomb Cyclone Blizzard that hit a few weeks ago. They built wind breaks out of stover bales, bedded cows and calves as much as possible, and used heavy equipment to manage the mud and manure when the weather allowed.
The storm system began with wet snow accumulation of 1-2”. That snow quickly turned to straight rain and with that came strong winds. “Within 48 hours, we received 6” of moisture. Flooding came quickly with ice melt and up river damns breaking,” said Hank Klosterman.
Hank and his family ranch along the Platte River from Highway 81 over to Bellwood. They have used the same calving pastures and grazing lands for the past 45 years and have only experienced minor flooding in those years; possible water running over low spots and maybe 6” of standing water. On March 13th and 14th, the Loup River moved outside of its banks almost a mile and a half within an hours’ time. This flooding directly affected the Klosterman’s calving pastures where 57 head of cow calf pairs either drowned or were swept away. This land that had never seen any kind of substantial flooding experienced water levels of 5-6’.
Much of their grazing lands and farm ground in the river valley has been ruined by the flooding, covered with heavy sand and debris. Some of the areas have up to 2-3’ of pure sand covering the top soil and dirt. Flooding also caused fences to be completely wiped out and will need a total rebuild.
Many people have talked about how this storm may affect the cattle markets. Hank had the following statement regarding the situation, “I think the cattle market is pricing in a fair amount of the news on death loss and lighter carcass weights already. The cattle on feed a few weeks ago showed that it is still a numbers game and that we will be marketing more cattle in 2019, so it is an uphill battle to maintain the chain speed and supply. The overall cowherd expansion has peaked but we still need to get real numbers on 2019 production to formulate a future market impact.”
The Bomb Cyclone Blizzard waged war on farmers and ranchers across our state. Going forward, producers will be faced with financial challenges due to the losses they experienced. “We all want to paint it black and white and say we’re done, we’ve had enough, but it isn’t that easy. With government assistance and banks doing an exceptional job to work with producers, those of us affected will be able to move forward.”
Overall, the Klosterman’s suffered the loss of the 57 pairs in the flooding. Since the storm, they have been battling extremely poor pen conditions in the feedyard and countless health issues with the cattle.
Watch Hank Klosterman and Mike Drinnin discuss the recent natural disasters that hit Nebraska and surrounding states, March 2019: https://youtu.be/zvCrbgMclvo
Written by: Mackenzie Johnston