The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is accepting farmers' applications for $3.7 million in drought and flood assistance allocated by the Minnesota legislature during the September special session.
Application forms are available to producers on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us or by visiting the local office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.
"This summer's floods and drought impacted thousands of producers, and we know this assistance will not completely cover all the needs out there," Commissioner Gene Hugoson says. "However, the state is committed to doing what it can to help in the recovery and rebuilding process."
Counties eligible for drought assistance include those classified as "D3" by the U.S. Drought Monitor in 2007. The list includes Aitkin, Benton, Cass, Chippewa, Cook, Crow Wing, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pine, Pope, Stearns, St. Louis, Stevens, Swift, Todd and Wadena counties. Counties eligible for flood assistance are those affected by the August flash floods that struck southeastern Minnesota. The list includes Houston, Fillmore, Winona, Wabasha, Olmsted, Dodge and Steele counties.
The assistance program will offer forage assistance for all livestock species, and a livestock investment grant to help reimburse producers for the loss of fencing, agricultural buildings, grain bins or equipment.
To target the funding and provide meaningful assistance to those most dependent upon agricultural income for their livelihoods, only farms and ranches that received at least 50% of their gross income from agriculture in tax year 2006 are eligible for this assistance package. Applications must be postmarked by December 31, 2007, and applicants are encouraged to submit applications via certified mail to ensure confirmation of delivery. MDA asks producers to save receipts for all purchases related to disaster recovery, as they will be required to provide these receipts in the reimbursement process.
Applications will be reviewed and audited by MDA staff and county Farm Service Agency committees in January 2008, with funds expected to be delivered in February 2008. Due to the uncertainty about the number of applications that will be submitted, officials cannot provide a preliminary estimate of the level of reimbursement each applicant will receive.
For more information, contact MDA at 651-201-6646.