Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Commissioner Gene Hugoson, state Sen. Jim Vickerman and state Rep. Al Juhnke announce the distribution of $3.7 million in aid to farmers affected by the 2007 drought and flood disasters. "Last year's severe drought in central Minnesota and the flash flood in the southeastern part of the state impacted thousands of producers," commissioner Hugoson said. "While in many cases this assistance won't completely cover their losses, it will help in the recovery and rebuilding process." The disaster assistance will provide zero-interest disaster recovery loans; offset the cost of forage production losses for livestock producers; help reimburse producers for loss of fencing, agricultural buildings, grain bins or equipment; help specialty crop farmers cover the cost of organic re-certification; and provide grants for mental health services to farm families and business operators. "I'm pleased with the state response in providing disaster relief to Minnesota farmers for losses sustained due to flooding and drought," said Sen. Vickerman (DFL Tracy), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. State Rep. Juhnke (DFL Willmar), chair of the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Committee, said the disaster relief is a prime example of the good government can do when everyone works together. "The loans and grants will help farmers and farm-related businesses," Juhnke said. "The communities in the afflicted areas still are struggling with the loss of farm income from this summer and fall, but this funding will help everyone to move forward." In a special legislative session last September, Gov. Pawlenty and legislators directed $3.7 million to the MDA for flood and drought recovery assistance to agricultural producers in the disaster-declared counties. Producers had until Jan. 15, 2008, to apply for the assistance. The MDA processed applications from nearly 3,000 producers in 29 counties and those eligible for assistance will receive the payments in early February.