Minnesota Farmers Impacted by Severe Drought
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, 72% of Minnesota is now experiencing severe drought. This is a drastic increase from last week, when 52% of the state was deemed to be in severe drought.
Farmers haven’t seen anything close to this since 1988. Today, Governor Tim Walz heard from farmers in Polk County about how the drought has affected them.
“A drought is one of the more insidious natural disasters for farmers, because if there’s a tornado everybody sees it or a hailstorm and it’s over that day. Even a flood is very visible and most people are impacted by it,” said Walz Thursday in Nisswa at a stop on his education tour. “When it’s a drought, your yard’s crispy but you’re like, ‘well, it’s not raining, I can golf again or I can boat,’ and I don’t say that facetiously, that’s just what people do. But if you’re one of that 1% or 2% of folks who are into farming, this thing is more horrific than any of those other events because it’s more widespread, it’s deeper, and it’s a slow-moving disaster.”
The Drought Monitor shows the more intense “extreme” drought category has expanded from 4% of the state last week to almost 19% this week.
“The wheat crop is pretty much gone, there’s still some potential for the soybeans if we get rain in the next week to 10 days, and a little bit longer if we get it and have a longer growing season with soybean,” said Walz. “The real problem already is starting to exist among our cattle producers and our livestock producers. There’s no forage, and so what we heard from them, and this thing’s the state’s doing, what things can we do like the Emergency Livestock Forage Program that allows for some payments for folks to be able to go and buy hay, to be able to go and transport water or fencing that they need to do.”
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Rural Finance Authority Board determined on July 14 that an emergency exists in Minnesota due to drought, making zero-interest loans available immediately for Minnesota farmers whose operations are suffering from lack of rain. The DNR has also convened the State Drought Task Force, a panel of state, federal, regional, and local experts.