TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly said on Friday, June 17, that her administration has taken action and made resources available to aid cattle feeders in southwestern Kansas whose cattle have died over the weekend due to heat stress.

“I have directed state agencies to do everything in their power to help Kansas cattle feeders who lost cattle due to heat stress,” Kelly said. “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.”

Gov. Kelly said a combination of high temperatures which spiked in a short amount of time, high humidity, and little-to-now wind caused the cattle to die over the weekend - a rare event in an area usually ideal for cattle feeding.

“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 the losses would 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.”

Kelly noted that there are federal resources available to provide financial relief. She said impacted feeders are eligible for U.S. Dept. of Ag. indemnity payments - which are made to compensate for the loss or destruction of certain animals and crops. She said fatality insurance could also cover some of the losses.

The Governor also said heat-related deaths in feedyards are rare because producers take precautions like providing extra water, altering feeding schedules so cows 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.”

Kelly also said Kansas beef cattle contribute about $13 billion to the state’s economy each year and the Sunflower State exported more than $1.7 billion in fresh, chilled and frozen beef to countries around the globe in 2021.