Devastation for Montana's ranchers only just beginning - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Devastation for Montana's ranchers only just beginning

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Over the course of our fire coverage, KFBB has shared the stories of several ranchers impacted by these wildfires, whether it be due to a loss of hay, grass, or even livestock. But one expert we spoke with says their troubles are only just beginning. 

Rachel Endecott, with MSU Extension, says while there is no way to quantify just yet how much has been lost, she estimates statewide, Montana agriculture will lose millions of dollars by the time this fire season is over. 

And while volunteers and donations have helped lighten the blow, ranchers have been forced to make nearly impossible decisions. 

"These folks, even if they don't have a fire, are dealing with some really really tough decisions about, you know, do I need to sell cows, do I buy hay, how do I pay my operating loan? Yeah, I think it is pretty tough, and near the worst that we've seen in a lot of areas whether it's from a fire perspective or just a flat out drought perspective," says Endecott.

Endecott says another major issue has been a loss of fencing, resulting in missing cattle. Luckily, Montana has some pretty strict branding laws. But it still puts ranchers' time, money and safety on the line while looking for their cows. 

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