U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a disaster declaration for counties in Minnesota affected by the ongoing drought. This declaration 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.
"I am pleased that USDA will be able to provide some relief to Minnesota's farmers and ranchers who, much like farmers across the country, have been devastated by this summer's drought conditions," Peterson said. "Farmers need a strong safety net when disaster strikes which is why I am continuing to urge Congress to pass the five-year farm bill this year."
"The ongoing drought is continuing to put strain on Minnesota's farmers and ranchers," Klobuchar said. "Today's action is an important step in helping our producers get through these challenging times, and I will continue to fight to move forward the 5-year Farm Bill that the Senate passed in June, which includes critical drought relief programs to support Minnesota's farmers and ranchers."
"This assistance will give Minnesota's farmers and livestock producers the help many of them need to survive a bad year and get back on their feet," said Sen. Franken. "This is good news, but this drought shows just how important it is that the House of Representatives pass the Senate's Farm Bill so our farmers have the stability they need to plan for next year."
"This important action by the USDA can help give farmers and ranchers some peace of mind during this difficult time," said Walz. "What rural America needs now is certainty. House leadership should bring the bipartisan five-year Farm Bill up for a vote on the floor of the U.S. House without further delay. I will keep fighting for our farmers and ranchers."
The declaration designates Lac Qui Parle, Nicollet and Yellow Medicine counties as a primary disaster area. Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Sibley, Le Seur, Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood, Renville and Swift have also been designated as contiguous disaster counties.
Last month 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.