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Over 1,800 dairy cows killed in freak blizzard in Washington state, hurting struggling farmers



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By Phil McCausland

A surprise blizzard in Washington State caused the death of more than 1

,800 dairy cows across a little more than a dozen farms, leaving farmers to find a

An arid region of the state, Yakima Valley is host to a number of dairy farms that use open lots for their cows, meaning their buildings are without walls. That's typically not a problem because the area only gets six to eight inches of rain per year.

But on Saturday farmers said that a storm forecast to bring three to five inches of snow, already a large snowfall by their standards, suddenly dropped 18 to 24 inches with winds of 40 to 50 mph and gusts of up to 80 mph.

Jason Sheehan, 44, has run a dairy farm of 5,000 cattle for 17 years in the valley. On Saturday, more than 200 of his cows were killed in the storm. He has never seen anything like it, he said, adding it is only the latest challenge for struggling dairy producers.

"It's been four years of thin margins and losses," said Sheehan, who employs 35 people on his dairy farm. "We've been struggling financially for four years, and now Mother Nature is throwing another twist. It's a tough time to take this on. "


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