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Records lacking on drought expenses? Minnesotans can still apply for relief starting June 21

Drought relief in Minnesota is aimed at livestock producers, including dairy farmers, and at specialty crop farmers, like those who grow fruits and vegetables, who might sell through farmers markets. Drought-related expenses from June 1, 2021, to May 22, 2022, are eligible.

A card displays information about a load of hay for sale at Mid-American Auction in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, on March 3, 2022.
A card displays information about a load of hay for sale at Mid-American Auction in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, on March 3. Drought related expenses like hauling hay are eligible for reimbursement under drought relief in Minnesota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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ST. PAUL — Don't have great records of the money you spent for things like hauling feed or livestock during the 2021 drought? If you are a Minnesotan, you can still apply for drought aid.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will begin taking applications for drought relief on Tuesday, June 21. The application period will be open for 10 to 12 days. Online application is encouraged but email and mail applications will be accepted.

Who's eligible? Livestock and specialty crop producers in all but four Minnesota counties — Goodhue, Rice, Wabasha and Winona. In addition to livestock producers, including dairy farmers, the relief is aimed at specialty crop farmers of things like fruits and vegetables, who might sell through farmers markets. You don't have to be a full-time farmer; as long as you would normally have $1,000 of gross farm revenue, you can apply. An IRS W-9 Form is required. It is not intended for crops covered by crop insurance.

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How much can I get? The maximum is $7,500 per farm. If there are more requests than funds available, the state will pro-rate reimbursement, meaning all applicants might get just 75% or 50% of what is requested.
The state recommends including more than $7,500 worth of expenses in your application in case some expenses are deemed ineligible.

Is the payment taxable? Any state payment is considered taxable income by the IRS.

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What is covered? The Minnesota Department of Agriculture provides at least a partial list on its website but there may be expenses deemed eligible that aren't on the list. “Be inclusive in your expenses,” Stu Lourey of Minnesota Farmers Union said during a recent webinar on drought relief. Here are a few examples:

  • Feed that normally would not have been purchased.
  • Water handling equipment such as pumps and irrigation equipment.
  • Fencing supplies.
  • Seed for replanting of cover crops and forage.
  • Extra labor costs related to drought expenses.
  • Feed, water and livestock hauling is eligible for $6 per mile up to 25 miles. (A federal program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish, or ELAP, was available for distances over 25 miles and producers can't be repaid for the same miles by both programs.)

The drought was last summer. What if I had expenses in the spring? If it was before May 23, they're covered. Drought-related expenses from June 1, 2021, to May 22, 2022, are eligible.

I sold my cows early because of the drought and missed out on some profit because of it. Can I claim that? Sorry, the drought relief is only for expenses incurred and not for lost revenue.

What if I don't have all my receipts, can I still get reimbursed? Yes. You can list expenses and sign a statement attesting that the list is true and accurate. But the state prefers receipts, copies of canceled checks or copies of bank statements highlighting expenses.

What if I still have questions? Contact the Agriculture Department at 651-201-6500 or email drought@state.mn.us. Also watch for informational webinars through Minnesota Farm Bureau and Minnesota Farmers Union.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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