Low interest loans are now available for Minnesota farmers whose barns or sheds collapsed due to the state’s record February snowfall.
February 2019 set a record for amount of snow received in February in the Twin Cities at 39 inches, beating the previous record of 26.5 inches in 1962 by more than a foot, according to the National Weather Service.
Thom Petersen, Minnesota agriculture commissioner, praised the quick action of several lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz while speaking March 19 at the 2019 Ag Summit in Austin, organized by Riverland Community College.
“This zero-interest loan program is especially important for farmers who suffered damage from the heavy snowfall and were not insured or were underinsured,” Petersen said.
More than 100 barns and sheds collapsed this winter, he said, mostly concentrated in the southeast part of the state. He said there were reports of free-stall barns, finishing barns, poultry barns and machine sheds collapsing under the weight of snow and ice.
Legislators responded quickly, with Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, and Sen. Michael Goggin, R-Red Wing, sponsoring legislation to allow Rural Finance Authority disaster recovery loan program funds to be used to clean up, repair or replace farm structures damaged by the weight of snow, sleet or ice. The bill is effective retroactively from Jan. 1, 2019.
The bill was introduced March 7 in both the House and Senate. It passed both chambers unanimously on March 14, with the governor signing the bill into law on March 18. Loans became available March 19.
“This relief is critical for the farmers who have been affected by extreme snow and blizzard conditions,” Walz said in a news release.
The funds are available to farmers for expenses not covered by insurance. The Disaster Recovery Loan Program can be used to help clean up, repair or replace farm structures and septic and water systems, as well as to replace crop inputs, feed and livestock. Eligible farmers must have received at least 50% of their annual gross income from farming for the past three years and will work through their bank to secure the RFA loans.
Kubat Willette is a digital content creator for Farm Progress.