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.
"As this drought continues it's putting increasing strain on Minnesota's farmers and ranchers," Klobuchar said. "This action by the USDA is another important step in helping our farmers 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."
"Farming is a vital part of Minnesota's economy, and this assistance will give our farmers and livestock producers some assistance so they can survive this year's drought," said Sen. Franken. "Farming is inherently risky, and that's why it's so important that the House of Representatives pass the Senate's Farm Bill so our farmers know they can count on a safety net when a bad year hits."
"This action will provide some relief to Minnesota's farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by this summer's devastating drought," Peterson said. "Farmers need a strong safety during difficult times which is why it is so imperative that Congress pass a five-year farm bill this year. I will continue my efforts to ensure the House of Representatives brings up the bill when we reconvene in November."
"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 Clearwater, Kittson, Koochiching, Le Sueur, Roseau, Sibley, and Waseca counties as a primary disaster area. Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Carver, Faribault, Freeborn, Hubbard, Itasca, Lake of the Woods, McLeod, Mahnomen, Marshall, Pennington, Polk, Renville, Rice, St. Louis, Scott, and Steele have also been designated as contiguous disaster counties.
Earlier this summer, 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.