Gov. Walz announces $10 million drought relief package for farmers, producers

In late September, Gov. Tim Walz announced a $10 million drought relief package to support Minnesota farmers and livestock producers impacted by severe drought conditions during the 2021 growing season.

“Historic drought conditions have created extreme stress and financial hardship for our farmers and livestock producers during an already difficult time for the agricultural industry,” Gov. Walz said. “As governor, and as someone who grew up on a family farm, I stand with our farmers. This funding will provide much-needed relief to Minnesota’s agricultural community and help ensure our farmers can keep feeding Minnesota and the world.”

More details on the drought relief package will be announced soon. The governor’s proposal requires legislative approval and will be considered during a special session later in October.

“Many of Minnesota’s farmers have had a tough season of drought. … I’m working on a targeted relief package that could provide rapid response grants and property tax rebates to help our farmers and the critical role they play in our important food supply chain,” Sen. and Senate Ag Chair Torrey Westrom said. “We also recognize the vital work and produce farmers provide for our state, especially during this tough economic pinch the drought has put some farmers in – particularly those raising livestock, as their forage is in short supply and they don’t have any type of crop or revenue insurance to cover losses or expenses created by the drought.”

The governor’s proposal includes $5 million in rapid response grants to provide drought relief for livestock producers and specialty crop producers. Examples of eligible costs include water handling equipment such as water tanks, pipeline, and water wagons, water hauling, wells, and irrigation equipment. The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association welcomed the governor’s announcement.

“We appreciate the governor recognizing that many of producers throughout the state have been severely affected by the ongoing drought,” said MSGA President Mike Skaug, who farms in Beltrami in northwest Minnesota. “We urge the Legislature to work together during the special session to approve the governor’s proposal.”

The funding proposal also includes $5 million for the Rural Finance Authority’s Disaster Recovery Loan Program. The Rural Finance Authority’s Disaster Recovery Loan Program makes zero-interest loans available immediately for Minnesota farmers whose operations are suffering from lack of rain. The Disaster Recovery Loan Program can be used to help cover lost revenue or expenses not covered by insurance.

This summer, Gov. Walz met with agricultural leaders, across the state, including Skaug, to hear how the drought has impacted them. Gov. Walz also met with President Joe Biden and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to ask that all levels of government work together to address the impacts of this drought on Minnesota’s farmers.

“Thanks to the Governor’s drought relief package, Minnesota’s livestock and specialty crop farmers will have an opportunity to recoup some of their losses,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “I encourage farmers and producers to apply for these grants and loans while they’re available.”

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