Livestock producers affected by the early October blizzard have until the end of the year to apply for funding from a program that has already collected nearly $1 million.

Donations ranging from $1 to $100,000 have contributed to the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund. The Rapid City Journal reports donations have come from almost every state, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The fund was established by the Black Hills Area Community Foundation, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association following the blizzard that killed an estimated 15,000 cattle in western South Dakota.

"We're really excited to kick off the application process," Cory Eich of Canova, president of the South Dakota Cattlement's Association said. "Hopefully, we've met our goal of being fair in distributing aid to those who need it the worst and as quickly as possible."

The money will help producers with immediate needs. A Montana-based group collecting replacement heifers to help producers rebuild herds started delivering animals earlier this month.

Information from the applications will be kept confidential and the South Dakota Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters is taking recommendations of families in need of assistance as well.

Applications are available at