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Members of Congress push for aid for ranchers

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Several members of Congress are pressing the U.S. agriculture secretary to expedite a provision in the new farm bill that helps ranchers in the Dakotas and Nebraska recover from an October blizzard.

The nearly $100 billion-a-year federal farm bill, which awaits President Barack Obama's signature, restarts a livestock disaster program that had expired. Members of the South Dakota and North Dakota delegations were among those urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a letter to make sure there are no delays getting the relief money to ranchers.

In their letter, the lawmakers said the blizzard killed more than 20,000 cattle, sheep, horses and bison in South Dakota and parts of North Dakota and Nebraska, and in some cases left producers with less than half of their herds.

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