U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Collin Peterson, Tim Walz, and Rick Nolan announced this week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a federal disaster declaration to provide assistance for Minnesota farmers hurt by the shortage of animal feed. The announcement comes after the members urged the department to issue a disaster declaration in a letter earlier this week. Last year’s drought, along with this year’s late spring and heavy rains have led to exceptional losses to the alfalfa crop that Minnesota dairy and cattle producers rely on as a high-protein animal feed.
“The recent cases of extreme weather and resulting feed shortages have hurt too many farmers and ranchers throughout Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “This support will help dairy and cattle producers get through these challenging times and ensure our rural economies remain strong.”
The declaration designates Carver, Dakota, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Jackson, Le Sueur, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Rock, Scott, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, and Winona counties as primary disaster counties. Anoka, Blue Earth, Chisago, Cottonwood, Hennepin, McLeod, Martin, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Ramsey, Sibley, Watonwan, and Wright counties. The declaration makes producers in these counties eligible for emergency loan assistance to help address crop losses and high feed costs.
Last month, the members sent a letter to the department urging them to grant an emergency exemption to the Nov. 1 restriction that would allow farmers to harvest a second crop or graze livestock on forages on prevent plant acres without penalty. In addition, the members requested emergency authorizations to allow for additional livestock grazing on Conservation Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program acres and assistance for producers to plant high forage value cover crops.