WILLMAR, MN—Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, is encouraging farmers whose flocks have been impacted by avian flu to apply for disaster relief loans available through the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority (RFA). During last week's special session, the legislature approved $10 million in funding for the RFA program in response to the avian flu epidemic as a part of the Environment and Agriculture omnibus bill.
According to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, loans are available to farmers through their existing agriculture lenders. Current loan interest rates are 0% for a period of up to 10 years. RFA-backed loans are limited to 45% 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.
"We want to make sure farmers know the options that are available to them to assist during this incredibly difficult time," Baker said. "The Board of Animal Health announced today that no new cases have been reported in the past two weeks. This is great news as Minnesota farmers start the process of recovering from the avian flu epidemic. These loans will help farmers get back on their feet and ease the financial burden caused by avian flu."
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.