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Video: Walz tells farmers federal drought help is on the way

Aug 07, 2021 05:40AM ● By Editor

Watch the KSTP-TV Report here

Photo: KSTP-TV

By Tom Hauser of KSTP-TV - August 6, 2021

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen met with farmers from across the state during a virtual meeting to discuss what many farmers consider the worst drought in Minnesota since 1988.

"In central Cass County here, we're just bone dry," one farmer told the governor. "I'm sure everybody is in the same boat. So we're just looking for options on how to best manage our livestock and our crops."

Farmers say they need about an inch of rain per week to keep their crops healthy. Many areas haven't had that much rain in the past month. It's impacting both crops and livestock operations.

"Especially on the livestock side, that industry is getting decimated here in northwest Minnesota," said Mahnomen County farmer Mike Gunderson, who has both livestock and crops. "We got crop insurance if we get a short crop, but if we don't get hay you gotta sell your (livestock). And you're seeing a lot of individuals selling part of their cow herd or totally liquidating."

Cattle farmer Rachel Gray, from up in Black Duck, says conditions are critical.

"I saw pictures yesterday of the Black Duck River and it is completely dry," she told the governor. "There is no water in the Black Duck River right now. So anyone watering cattle in that area are finding it hard."

The governor had some encouraging news to pass along to farmers who are struggling financially because of the drought.

"We got some news last night that we haven't had time to unpack it all, but the federal government is providing disaster mitigation for states impacted by drought and wildfires," Walz said during the meeting. "It looks like Minnesota's share may be around $17 million or so..."

The governor said it's still unclear exactly how the money can be used. He will also ask the Minnesota Legislature to come up with an aid package for farmers when they meet in a special session next month.

To see the original report and watch related stories, follow this link to the KSTP-TV website.

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