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Drought relief checks begin mailing this week

Requests for relief totaled more than twice as much as available funds.

EP Agriculture
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ST. PAUL — Checks to Minnesota livestock farmers and specialty crop producers who applied for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s 2021 Agricultural Drought Relief Program will begin to be mailed this week.

A total of 2,922 out of 3,000 received applications were approved, totaling $18.9 million in eligible requests. The total request was more than double the $8.1 million appropriated by the Legislature for ADRoP this spring.

Because the legislation stipulated that all qualifying applicants must receive a payment, checks will be pro-rated to 41.9% of the amount farmers were eligible to receive. While the legislation permitted up to $7,500 per eligible farmer, the maximum payment per farmer will be $3,143.

“We know this won’t make people whole from the extra costs they had last year,” Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said in a press release. “But it should help people pay a few bills and that’s important this time of year.”

Following up with farmers who submitted incomplete applications or needed to submit documents made the process take a little longer than expected, but checks are now being processed and mailed as quickly as possible, Petersen said.

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Drought-related expenses incurred after June 1, 2021, and before May 23, 2022 were eligible for funding.

Eligible expenses for specialty crop producers include water handling equipment; water hauling; wells; irrigation equipment; replacement plants, seeds, or seedlings; additional hired labor; farmers’ market fees for canceled markets; and more.

Eligible expenses for livestock farmers include water-related expenses; feed-related expenses; custom bailing; equipment rental; livestock transportation; livestock pond dredging; cover crop, pasture, or forage replanting; fencing; grazing rights; additional hired labor; and more.

Farms must be located in a county designated by the United States Department of Agriculture as a primary natural disaster area after July 19, 2021 and before January 1, 2022, or in a county contiguous to a designated county. All Minnesota counties except Goodhue, Rice, Wabasha, and Winona were eligible.

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