Pawlenty requests agricultural disaster declaration for 25 Minnesota counties

Governor Tim Pawlenty recently sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns requesting a federal agricultural disaster be declared for 25 Minnesota counties, which would allow drought-impacted farmers and ranchers to receive low-in...

Governor Tim Pawlenty recently sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns requesting a federal agricultural disaster be declared for 25 Minnesota counties, which would allow drought-impacted farmers and ranchers to receive low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additionally, the Governor requested that Secretary Johanns declare Roseau County as an agricultural disaster area due to winter grass kill and early excessive rains.

"I saw firsthand the devastating effects of this drought when I visited farmers in Central Minnesota this week," Governor Pawlenty said. "The extremely dry conditions are taking a toll on crops and forages, which are directly impacting Minnesota's farm families."

A declaration would allow affected farmers to receive the assistance of the United States Department of Agriculture, specifically the low-interest Emergency Loan Program administered by the Farm Service Agency. Emergency loan funds may be used to restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation and refinance certain debts.

Several parts of the state experienced drought conditions last year, and lack of rainfall during 2007 has only exacerbated stress on crops and forages in these areas. While it is too early to predict actual yield losses, there are confirmed reports of significant forage loss which is of particular concern to livestock producers.

"Fortunately, many Minnesota farmers have insured their crops against weather-related disasters, providing some buffer against economic losses," Commissioner of Agriculture Gene Hugoson said. "However, I'm particularly concerned with hay and forage losses leading to hay shortages and potential herd liquidation," said Hugoson.


The 25 counties are Aitkin, Anoka, Benton, Brown, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Douglas, Hennepin, Hubbard, Itasca, Kanabec, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pipestone, Pope, Roseau, St. Louis, Sherburne, Swift, Todd, Wadena and Wright. Counties were asked to submit disaster assessment reports to the Farm Service Agency last week. The USDA State Emergency Board met recently and made the disaster assistance recommendation to the Governor.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Low-Interest Loans

The Minnesota Rural Finance Authority will offer two loan programs that provide low-cost financing to farmers impacted by drought conditions.

Once a county obtains a disaster declaration, eligible producers will be able to apply for the Disaster Assistance Loan Program to help finance watering, irrigation or other drought mitigation systems.

Additionally, all producers, regardless of disaster declarations are eligible to apply for the Loan Restructuring Program designed to help produces remain in good credit standing with their local lender, but are having difficulty with cash flow due to adverse events.

For additional information, contact the RFA Office at (651) 201-6004 or your local lender.

Upper Midwest Hay List

As farmers and ranchers across much of Minnesota struggle with a second consecutive summer of drought conditions, some are finding it increasingly difficult to provide forage for their livestock. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urges producers in this situation to take advantage of the "Hay List," an Internet-based service matching farmers needing forage with those who have forage to sell or donate.


The Upper Midwest Hay List is operated by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, in partnership with the extension services of Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota. The Web site can be accessed at , and there is a link to the site on the MDA home page at .

For additional information about the Hay List, farmers can contact Paul Peterson with the University of Minnesota Extension Service by e-mail at or by telephone at 612-625-3747.

Extension Service Farm Information Line

The University of Minnesota Extension Service will be staffing the Farm Information Line at 800-232-9077 to address questions from individuals who may have questions regarding managing crops, natural resources, livestock, home and community areas during drought conditions. In particular, livestock producers are cautioned about utilizing drought stressed crops as silage due to potential nitrate levels in the feed and potential silo gas danger. Additional information can be found at .

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