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Published June 17, 2013, 05:07 PM

Minn. governor seeks fed help to fight hay shortage

A combination of too little precipitation last year and two much this year is hurting Minnesota’s alfalfa crop, prompting Gov. Mark Dayton to turn to Washington for help.

By: Don Davis, Forum News Service

ST. PAUL -- A combination of too little precipitation last year and two much this year is hurting Minnesota’s alfalfa crop, prompting Gov. Mark Dayton to turn to Washington for help.

Dayton wants federal help after what he calls widespread winter kill of the Minnesota alfalfa crop, which is used to feed livestock. The winter kill was followed by lots of rain this spring.

“The situation compounds a serious shortage of forage due to severe drought conditions in Minnesota last year,” Dayton wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These events have contributed to record high forage prices and a lack of availability.”

Dayton asked Vilsack to waive prohibitions on grazing or harvesting hay on some land, including that in the Conservation Reserve, Wetland Reserve, Environmental Quality Incentive programs.

The governor also wants Washington to provide additional funding so farmers can plant hay on land that has been too wet to plant other crops.

“Minnesota’s livestock industry is critically important to our economy,” Dayton wrote.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports Minnesota hay production dropped from 4 million tons in 2011 to 2.5 million last year. The story was the same across the state.

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