Washington, D.C. - 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 designated agriculture disaster areas for several Minnesota counties impacted by multiple natural disasters in the 2011 crop year.
"The extreme weather in western Minnesota has caused severe damage to crops and taken a heavy toll on rural communities," Klobuchar said. "With these designations, farmers are eligible to access the permanent disaster program and emergency financing they need to get through this difficult period and continue their vital role in Minnesota's economy."
"The devastating weather conditions that western Minnesota experienced over the last year have created extensive hardship for many of our producers," said Senator Franken. "I'm relieved that the USDA has designated our hardest hit counties as agricultural disaster areas because it gives our farmers somewhere to turn to for help. I urge producers in these counties to speak with their local FSA offices to see if they qualify for this assistance."
"Farmers take on a big risk every season when they plant their crop," Peterson said. "Sometimes Mother Nature throws a curve ball, and this disaster assistance is important to helping our producers get through these weather problems."
"In order to supply the safest, most abundant food supply in the world, our farmers take on considerable risk," said Walz. "While we cannot control the weather, we can make sure our producers can recover when they are hit by disaster and continue to be a vital part of our local economies."
These Minnesota counties are designated as natural disaster areas due to combined effects of excessive rain, excessive heat, high winds, tornadoes and an early fall frost occurring during the period of April 1, 2011 and Sept. 15, 2011.
The counties included in this disaster are: Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Lac Qui Parle, Redwood, Renville, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Traverse and Wright. Benefits are also available for the contiguous counties of Anoka, Benton, Brown, Carver, Cottonwood, Douglas, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Le Sueur, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Morrison, Murray, Nicollet, Otter Tail, Pope, Scott, Sherburne, Swift, Todd, Wilkin and Yellow Medicine.
Producers in both primary and contiguous counties are eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans (EM) and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 and was implemented beginning on January 4, 2010.
FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.
USDA also has issued a disaster designation for Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Polk, Traverse, and Wilkin Counties as a result of spring snowstorms, frosts, and freezes in late spring and early fall; excessive rain, flooding, ground saturation, and landslides, high winds, hail and tornadoes; periods of unseasonable cool spring temperatures and excessive summer heat, and weather-related insects and diseases that occurred during the period of January 1, 2011 and continuing.