August 20, 2007

Wright County is included in federal disaster area, requested by governor

Wright County is included in a group of 24 Minnesota counties that have been designated as federal agricultural disaster areas due this summer’s drought.

Farmers and ranchers in an additional 32 adjacent counties will also be eligible for assistance. Governor Tim Pawlenty had requested the disaster declaration in a letter to Secretary Mike Johanns Aug. 3.

The disaster declaration will allow drought-impacted farm operators to receive low-interest loans from the US Department of Agriculture. 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.

“Minnesota farmers and ranchers need this help to deal with the effects of a largely hot and dry summer that is challenging their crop and livestock operations,” Pawlenty said. “We greatly appreciate the prompt work and response by Secretary Johanns and the USDA.”

Recently, Governor Pawlenty visited with farmers at a dairy and corn farm west of Little Falls to see the drought conditions firsthand. Johanns officially announced the disaster declaration today during his visit at Farmfest in Redwood Falls

The 24 Minnesota counties designated as primary natural disaster areas are:

Aitkin, Cook, Kanabec, Sherburne, Anoka, Crow Wing, Lake, St. Louis, Benton, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Swift, Brown, Hennepin, Morrison, Todd, Carlton, Hubbard, Pipestone, Wadena, Cass, Itasca, Pope, Wright.

The additional 32 Minnesota counties also eligible for assistance because they are adjacent to the primary counties are:

Becker, Cottonwood, Lyon, Redwood, Beltrami, Dakota, McLeod, Renville, Big Stone, Grant, Meeker, Rock, Blue Earth, Isanti, Murray, Scott, Carver, Kandiyohi, Nicollet, Stearns, Chippewa, Koochiching, Otter Tail, Stevens, Chisago, Lac Qui Parle, Pine, Washington, Clearwater, Lincoln, Ramsey, Watonwan.

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.

In addition to federal assistance, the State of Minnesota is responding to the drought with several low-interest loan programs and a “Hay List” to help ranchers find forage for cattle.

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 website can be accessed at http://www.haylist.umn.edu, and there is a link to the site on the MDA homepage at www.mda.state.mn.us.

For additional information about the Hay List, farmers can contact Paul Peterson, with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, by e-mail at peter072@umn.edu 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 www.extension.umn.edu.

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