WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) announced a series of federal and state resources available to Minnesota farmers impacted by severe drought conditions.
“With most of western and southern Minnesota experiencing severe drought conditions, there are reports that herd culling is being done due to a lack of quality feed and that farmers are making other operational changes to mitigate future losses in production,” said Congresswoman Fischbach. “There are resources available to farmers, ranchers, businesses, and communities impacted by this natural disaster. My office stands ready to assist constituents in navigating these programs.”
A list of federal and state resources available can be found on Congresswoman Fischbach’s website.
Minnesota Disaster Recovery Loan Program
Zero-interest loans are available to Minnesota farmers whose operations are suffering due to extreme drought conditions under the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Disaster Recovery Loan Program. This loan is available to help cover lost revenue or expenses not covered by insurance. The funds can be used for to help clean up, repair, or replace farm buildings, repair or replace septic and water systems, replace seed, fertilizer (or other cropping inputs), feed, or livestock and poultry. Applicants will work through local lenders to apply for the Disaster Recovery Loan Program. Upon completion of an application, the lender will apply for RFA participation. (The RFA must have a completed Master Participation Agreement with the lender on file). Eligible farmers must have received at least 50% of their annual gross income from farming for the past three years. Interest rates on the Rural Finance Authority portion of the loan are currently set at 0.0%.
USDA Disaster Assistance for Drought Recovery
Producers who experience livestock deaths and feed losses due to natural disasters may be eligible for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). This program also provides eligible producers with compensation for expenses associated with transporting water to livestock physically located in a county that is designated as level “D3 Drought - Extreme” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. For ELAP, producers will need to file a notice of livestock loss within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days of the loss becoming apparent.
Livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought in 2021 may be eligible for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). A map of eligible counties for LFP drought may be found on the FSA website.
Additionally, emergency haying and grazing of CRP acres may be authorized (outside of the primary nesting season) to provide relief to livestock producers in areas affected by a severe drought or similar natural disaster. Emergency haying and grazing status is reviewed and authorized each Thursday using the U.S. Drought Monitor. Counties are approved for emergency haying and grazing due to drought conditions on a county by county basis, when a county is designated as level “D2 Drought - Severe” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for cost-share assistance through the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes or vines lost during the drought. This complements Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) or crop insurance coverage, which covers the crop but not the plants or trees in all cases. For TAP, a program application must be filed within 90 days.
FSA also offers a variety of direct and guaranteed loans, including operating and emergency loans, to producers unable to secure commercial financing. Producers in counties with a primary or contiguous disaster designation may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Loans can help producers replace essential property, purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed, cover family living expenses or refinance farm-related debts and other needs.
Producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or FSA’s NAP should report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or FSA office, respectively. If they have crop insurance, producers should report crop damage to their agent within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days. For NAP covered crops, a Notice of Loss (CCC-576) must be filed within 15 days of the loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.
Additionally, RMA authorized emergency procedures earlier this month to help agricultural producers impacted by extreme drought conditions. Emergency procedures allow insurance companies to accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork and reduce the number of required representative samples when damage is consistent. Read more in RMA’s July 13, 2021 news release.
FSA offers the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program to assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore fencing, damaged farmland or forests.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also offers programs to help in the recovery process. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) can help producers plan and implement conservation practices on farms, ranches and working forests impacted by natural disasters. Practices include brush management, livestock watering facilities, prescribed grazing, etc.
Long-term damage from drought includes forage production loss in pastures and fields and increased wind erosion on crop fields not protected with soil health practices.