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Apply for flood, drought aid by end of year

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Apply for flood, drought aid by end of year
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The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding farmers that they have until Dec. 31 to apply for a portion of the $3.7 million in drought and flood assistance allocated by the Minnesota legislature.

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Application forms are available to producers on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us or by visiting the local office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

This summer's drought impacted thousands of producers, and the August floods that swept through southeastern Minnesota caused major problems for area producers. Just weeks after the floods, Governor Tim Pawlenty and state lawmakers held a special legislative session to provide farmers with resources to help the recovery effort. Now, with farmers having completed their fall field work, MDA Commissioner Gene Hugoson wants to make sure all eligible farmers remember to fill out the applications before the Dec. 31 deadline.

"The first announcement of this program came during the busy harvest season, so some farmers may not have picked up the news," Commissioner Hugoson said. "We want to make sure farmers who suffered losses from the drought and floods get the assistance they need to help with recovery."

The assistance program will offer forage assistance for all livestock species, and a livestock investment grant to help reimburse producers for the loss of fencing, agricultural buildings, grain bins or equipment. Counties eligible for drought assistance include those classified as "D3" by the U.S. Drought Monitor in 2007. The list includes Aitkin, Benton, Cass, Chippewa, Cook, Crow Wing, Douglas, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pine, Pope, Stearns, St. Louis, Stevens, Swift, Todd and Wadena counties. Counties eligible for flood assistance are those affected by the August flash floods that struck southeastern Minnesota. The list includes Houston, Fillmore, Winona, Wabasha, Olmsted, Dodge and Steele counties.

To target the funding to those most dependent upon agricultural income for their livelihoods, only farms and ranches that received at least 50 percent of their gross income from agriculture in tax year 2006 are eligible for this assistance package. Applications must be postmarked by Dec. 31, and applicants are encouraged to submit applications via certified mail to ensure confirmation of delivery. Applications will be reviewed and audited by MDA staff and county Farm Service Agency committees in January 2008, with funds expected to be delivered in February 2008.

For more information, producers are asked to contact the MDA at 651-201-6646.

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