WISNER — Jeff Dinklage answered call after call at Herman Dinklage Inc. on Tuesday, accepting offers of help.
The office he sat in off Highway 275 near here was mostly spared — except for the broken back windows now boarded up.
But everything around it was decimated by tornadoes that tore through nearby Pilger and also did damage near Wisner and west of Stanton.
Destroyed were Dinklage’s grain bins, machine sheds, feed facilities, sun shades, lean-tos and irrigation pivots. He lost hundreds of cattle, although it was too soon to say exactly how many, at his three facilities.
“This is a total rebuild,” Dinklage said.
His feedlot operation wasn’t alone in suffering damage from Monday’s storm.
Northeast Nebraska has widely diversified agricultural operations and all probably took hits from the storm, said Greg Ibach, director of the Nebraska Agriculture Department.
“We’ll see impacts at cattle feedlots, dairies, hog production facilities, poultry and egg-laying operations,’’ he said. “Where the tornado went, it stripped the ground bare of crops.’’
Ibach said it was too early Tuesday to accurately assess the extent of damage because producers were still rounding up loose livestock and tending to injured animals.
Producers who lost animals in Monday’s tornado devastation may be eligible for compensation through the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which is part of the 2014 federal farm program.
Payments are based on 75 percent of the average fair market value of the dead livestock, said Don Kampschneider, county executive director of the Cuming County Farm Service Agency.
Under the program’s disaster assistance, payment could be almost $1,150 for a fat steer weighing over 800 pounds and slightly above $100 for a 150-pound market hog, he said. The maximum payout to a person or legal entity is $125,000.
The program criteria also is based on the number of livestock losses in excess of normal mortality rates for the year, he said.
Kampschneider reminds producers that they need to contact their county FSA office with the livestock death loss details as soon as possible.
While the deadline to apply for assistance is within 30 days of the loss, affected producers are now needing to dispose of dead stock as soon as possible — whether through a rendering company or burial. It it imperative that the losses be documented, Kampschneider said, such as in the form of a rendering company receipt or photos.
Larry Howard, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator, said he and Kampschneider purposely did not try to assess the damage for the required FSA disaster report on Tuesday.
Of the losses to agricultural producers, Howard said, “It’s really disheartening.”
On Tuesday, Dinklage’s first concern was the animals – hauling the uninjured cattle to neighboring feed yards, getting the vet to the injured to treat or euthanize them and tallying the dead.
He estimates his loss is in the millions at his three facilities. Crews were working Tuesday morning to move them all to new sites.
His Wayne County lot — where he kept had 7,500 head of cattle — saw the most fatalities, he said.
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Editor’s note: The World-Herald News Service contributed to this story.