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Serving: MN

Beltrami SWCD explores options to help farmers during drought

Paula Mohr Cows in pond
IN WETTER TIMES: Water to hydrate and cool grazing cattle is a luxury these days in Minnesota. A record-setting drought is challenging livestock farmers to provide water and forage for their animals.
Possible funds are limited to projects that impact water quality, unless lawmakers step in and decide otherwise.

At a recent board meeting, supervisors with the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District brainstormed about how they could help area farmers during this year’s record-setting drought.

Unfortunately, their revenue streams are somewhat constricted.

There are a few pots of funds through state cost-sharing programs that could be tapped, says Brent Rud, Beltrami SWCD district manager. However, the average farmer might not qualify because certain funds must be used for water quality improvement projects.

That said, the board elected to offer $40,000 to be used for drought-related projects that could be linked to water quality. For example, if a farmer were using a creek or river to water cattle and it ran dry, cost-share money could be used to drill a well or put in a fence to keep cattle out of the water source.

“There’s not a whole lot we can do,” Rud says. “We are still trying to come up with ways to be creative to assist farmers with projects.”

The board has talked about using a small amount of funding to help farmers purchase water hauling equipment.

SWCD seeks farmer input 

“We encourage farmers to get in touch with us,” Rud says. “We’ll make a list of people, and if an emergency declaration is announced regarding state funding, we’ll already have this information.” By gathering a list now of farmers, Rud says he would be able to share the level of need with officials.

Rud also contacted the Board of Soil and Water Resources after his district board meeting to find out if there was any assistance or discussion at the state level about helping via SWCDs. He was told that discussions were starting to take place.

Rud encourages farmers in the Beltrami SWCD area to call the office and speak with Aly Bergstrom at 218-333-4141.

“Please call, and we can start figuring our what the needs are,” Rud says. “We’d love to try and help.”

Get information online about Beltrami SWCD.


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