ST. PAUL – Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, encourages farmers whose flocks have been impacted by avian flu to apply for disaster relief loans available through the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority.
The Legislature recently approved $10 million in funding for the RFA program in response to the avian flu epidemic.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture indicates loans are available to farmers through their existing agriculture lenders. Current loan interest rates are 0 percent for a period of up to 10 years. RFA-backed loans are limited to 45 percent of the principal loan amount up to a maximum of $200,000. Loan funds can be used to replace flocks, make building improvements, or cover loss of revenue.
"I am pleased the Legislature provided relief for producers statewide who have been impacted by avian flu," Urdahl said. "Reports show approximately 700,000 birds have died in at least 10 Meeker County outbreaks alone and local farmers are encouraged to take advantage of this assistance to help them recover from this epidemic."
The Department of Agriculture's website says farmers must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for a Disaster Recovery Loan:
Be an individual who is a resident of Minnesota or a domestic family farm corporation or family farm partnership as defined in section 500.24, subd. 2;
Certify that the damage or loss was sustained within a county that was the subject of a state or federal disaster declaration, or due to the presence of avian influenza;
Demonstrate an ability to repay the loan;
Have received at least 50 percent of average annual gross income from farming for the past three years.
Interested borrowers are encouraged to contact their lender or call the Rural Finance Authority at 651-201-6004. Information on the loan program can be found by visiting the Rural Finance Authority website www.mda.state.mn.us/agfinance and clicking "Disaster Recovery Loan Program" on the right side, or by visiting www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/disaster/disasterloan.