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

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(ABC 6 News) Governor 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,” said Governor Walz. “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.”

“Minnesota’s farmers are essential to our economy and to our communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “As we’ve traveled the state and heard directly from farmers, small and large, we know how critical relief is for families across Minnesota. This proposal provides meaningful support for our farmers and producers who have been hit hard by this year’s severe drought.”

“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.”

"We’re grateful to see the Governor take action toward providing swift, targeted relief to farmers who’ve been devastated by this historic drought,” said Gary Wertish, President of the Minnesota Farmers Union. “Many livestock and specialty crop producers are struggling to plan for winter and upcoming season. Any relief we can get out now will help keep families on the farm."

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 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.

More details on the drought relief package will be announced soon.

This summer, Governor Walz met with agricultural leaders across the state to hear how the drought has impacted them. Governor 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.