They're still counting, but estimates are that around 20,000 cattle have been lost due to winter weather in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. And another winter storm that hit California earlier this week has been making its way across the country, sweeping east and north as it bears down on that same region this weekend with more snow.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) introduced federal disaster aid legislation last Friday in the U.S. Senate. The bill, if passed, will give monetary assistance for cattlemen affected by drought in 2005 and 2006, as well as provide payment to producers who lost cattle in the recent blizzards. The bill would provide $4.4 billion in emergency funding for weather-related crop shortfalls, quality losses, and damage to livestock feed, according to NCBA.

Another disaster aid bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Wayne Allard (R-CO), Pat Roberts (R-KS). Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Pete Domenici (R-NM) and James Inhofe (R-OK) to aid producers hit by blizzards and ice storms in December. It reauthorizes the Livestock Compensation Program and would provide aid for producers who suffered losses from recent blizzards in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO).
-- Burt Rutherford