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MDA announces Minn. Farmer Assistance Network

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is establishing a new network of services to help farmers who are having financial difficulties.

As announced by Gov. Pawlenty at Farmfest, the Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network (MFAN) will provide mentoring, technical assistance and financial guidance to farm families facing economic hardship.

The announcement comes amid a challenging year for the state's livestock sector. Dairy producers are struggling with milk prices that have fallen by 50 percent in the last 12 months to the lowest levels in decades.

Additionally, pork producers are seeing a weakened consumer demand for pork, increased feed prices and are having greater difficulty securing credit.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson says MFAN will consist of a network of certified volunteers who will provide a variety of services to meet struggling farmers' needs.

MFAN will include a one-stop hotline staffed by veteran financial analysts who would help producers facing crises. The network will also include referral services for lenders, farm business management instructors, and extension agents as well as for legal advice and crisis counseling.

MFAN will be under the administrative oversight of the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority (RFA), and will be funded through reallocation of existing money.