U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representative Tim Walz today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a disaster declaration for counties affected by the ongoing drought. The declaration, which designates Rock County as a primary disaster area and Nobles, Murray, and Pipestone counties as contiguous disaster counties, means that farmers in these counties are now eligible for emergency loan assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to help cover crop or livestock losses.
"Whether it's farmers whose crops are withering in the fields or livestock producers trying to manage the rising cost of feed, this severe drought continues to affect Minnesota farmers," Klobuchar said. "This action by the USDA is another important step in helping our farmers get through these challenging times and remain the backbone of our rural economy."
"Minnesota's farmers are an incredibly important part of our economy, and we need to make sure they can stay in business even when a bad year hits," said Sen. Franken. "This announcement is welcome news for farmers in southwest Minnesota, but this year's drought shows how important it is that we pass a comprehensive Farm Bill so our farmers and livestock producers have the long-term stability they need to thrive."
"This important action by the USDA will work to give farmers and ranchers peace of mind during these difficult times," said Walz. "What rural America needs now is for House leadership to bring the five-year Farm Bill forward for a vote. I will continue working with Rep. Peterson and my colleagues in the House to push leadership to make this happen. Southern Minnesotans can't wait."
Last week Senators Klobuchar and Franken sent President Obama a letter urging a coordinated and immediate response to the drought. In the letter, the Senators called on the President to quickly form an Interagency Drought Task Force to bring together officials from every federal agency to coordinate responses and help provide relief to those affected by the drought.