The drought of 2021 is presenting significant agricultural challenges in Minnesota. The latest drought monitor shows our part of the state is split between “severe” and “extreme” categories and our condition is unlikely to improve when that map is updated Thursday.
This is leading to stressed-out crops and difficult decisions for cattle farmers. Hay production has been way down, farmers are running out of pastureland and more acres of corn than usual will be needed to produce silage. It’s leaving many cattle farmers having to choose between buying more feed and thinning their herd.
There are rumblings the Legislature may be taking up this subject during a potential special session. The best remedy would be for Mother Nature to bless us with some much-needed rain, but even that would not alleviate our more immediate situation.
Time will tell on those issues. In the meantime, I would like to pass along some state and federal resources that are available, starting with a Minnesota Department of Agriculture website titled “Drought Resources” that provides details on the state’s current assistance programs. This includes zero-interest loans that are available to Minnesota farmers whose operations are suffering due to extreme drought conditions under the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Disaster Recovery Loan Program. Click here for more.
At the federal level, USDA Disaster Assistance for Drought Recovery is available for producers who experience livestock deaths and feed losses due to natural disasters. In addition, livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought in 2021 may be eligible for assistance through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. Visit this link for more information on these federal programs.
Please let me know if you run into any roadblocks in seeking state resources or if there is anything else I can do to help.
Thank you to the people of Stoney Brook Farm near Foley for recently hosting an Irrigators Association of Minnesota field day (pictured above). This group coordinates farm tours each summer to educate legislators about irrigation and to provide information on conservation practices and production benefits of irrigation for the state of Minnesota.
The opportunity to attend and receive an overview of irrigation, along with the benefits and responsibilities that go along with it, was much appreciated. This is helpful as we seek to support Minnesota farmers and food production while also protecting our water sources.
Meeting with school officials
I am in the midst of making a round of visits to school boards in our area and recently attended ROCORI and Albany meetings. Paynesville, Eden Valley-Watkins and Kimball also are on my list. I truly appreciate these opportunities to provide local school boards with a legislative update and to field any questions they may have during ever-evolving challenges they face.
On a somewhat related note, I enjoyed recently attending an open house for the new Paynesville Area Community Center. It was great touring the new facilities and learning about the new programs at the PACC, from shop/tech classes to CNA training. I also was pleased to meet with Janell Bullard and welcome her in her new role as superintendent of Paynesville schools.
Until next time, your input always is welcome and hope to see you around the district as we soak in these final days and weeks of summer.