Drought relief checks begin mailing

(ABC 6 News) – Checks to Minnesota livestock farmers and specialty crop producers who applied for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) 2021 Agricultural Drought Relief Program (ADRoP) will begin to be mailed this week.

A total of 2,922 out of 3,000 received applications were approved, totaling $18.9 million in eligible requests. The total request was more than double the $8.1 million appropriated by the Legislature for ADRoP this spring.

Because the legislation stipulated that all qualifying applicants must receive a payment, checks will be pro-rated to 41.9% of the amount farmers were eligible to receive. While the legislation permitted up to $7,500 per eligible farmer, the maximum payment per farmer will be $3,143.

“We know this won’t make people whole from the extra costs they had last year,” Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said. “But it should help people pay a few bills and that’s important this time of year.”

Following up with farmers who submitted incomplete applications or needed to submit documents made the process take a little longer than expected, but checks are now being processed and mailed as quickly as possible, Petersen said.

Drought-related expenses incurred after June 1, 2021, and before May 23, 2022 were eligible for funding.

Eligible expenses for specialty crop producers include water handling equipment; water hauling; wells; irrigation equipment; replacement plants, seeds, or seedlings; additional hired labor; farmers’ market fees for canceled markets; and more.

Eligible expenses for livestock farmers include water-related expenses; feed-related expenses; custom bailing; equipment rental; livestock transportation; livestock pond dredging; cover crop, pasture, or forage replanting; fencing; grazing rights; additional hired labor; and more.

Farms must be located in a county designated by the United States Department of Agriculture as a primary natural disaster area after July 19, 2021 and before January 1, 2022, or in a county contiguous to a designated county.

All Minnesota counties except Goodhue, Rice, Wabasha, and Winona were eligible.