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Minnesota drought relief demand means smaller checks are in the mail

Because of demand that the requirement in Minnesota's drought relief bill 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.

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Janssen Hang, executive director of the Hmong American Farmers Association, translates for Mai Moua, a vegetable farmer on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, as she speaks with Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the HAFA farm about how the drought has impacted her crops this year. Noah Fish / Agweek
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ST. PAUL — Drought relief checks for livestock and specialty producers in Minnesota are being sent out this week, but because of demand, producers will get less than half the maximum amount approved by the state Legislature.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 2,922 out of 3,000 drought relief 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 the 2021 Agricultural Drought Relief Program, or ADRoP.

Because the bill required that all qualifying applicants must receive a payment, checks will be prorated 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 news 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 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.

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.

While the 2021 drought was most severe in northern Minnesota, all Minnesota counties except Goodhue, Rice, Wabasha, and Winona were eligible.

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