As you know, this past summer’s drought created one of the most difficult growing seasons that Minnesota has seen in decades. Farmers had to make incredibly hard decisions: ending CSA deliveries early or entirely, selling or processing livestock early to save costs, paying to dig deeper wells or new ones entirely, and investing in new irrigation equipment. And some farmers even had to make the difficult decision to leave farming altogether.
On Feb. 16, the House Agriculture Committee approved the Governor’s proposed drought relief package: $5 million to go toward rapid, non-competitive response grants to provide relief for specialty crop and livestock producers and $5 million for the state’s Disaster Recovery Loan Program. Qualifying farmers can expect to see $5,000 to $10,000 in payments, depending on the number of applications received and pending legislative approval. The loan program administered by the Rural Finance Authority would offer drought relief loans.
Now, we need the Senate Agriculture Committee to hear and support this proposal quickly so that farmers can access these funds now. Take action with us and contact the Minnesota Senate Agriculture Committee to support drought relief NOW.
We need you to take action with us by contacting House and Senate Agriculture Committee members to make sure these funds can get to farmers who need them.
While we know these funds will not make operations whole, they can help farmers mitigate some of the costs this past season imposed on them and keep on the land more farmers who are stewarding our soils and feeding our communities.
This past fall during the Land Stewardship Project’s drought listening session, we heard from farmers that, while retroactive relief is important and necessary, we also need long-term solutions: investing in climate resiliency and adapting new practices, creating infrastructure to support small and midsized farms, and providing resources for long-term planning.
We will continue to work for long-term solutions that create systems of support for small and midsized farms. Take action with us NOW to provide immediate relief for farmers impacted by this summer’s drought.