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Governor Pawlenty requests federal disaster aid for drought stricken counties

Fri, Sep 12th, 2003
Posted in Features

Governor Tim Pawlenty has announced that he will request that approximately 49 Minnesota counties be designated as federal agricultural disaster areas by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture because of severe drought. The Governors announcement came during his weekly radio show, Good Morning Minnesota.

A month ago we were looking at a good crop year and now were looking at more than a billion dollars in economic loss, said Governor Tim Pawlenty. A federal disaster designation will enable farmers to tap low-interest loans to help them make it through this rough year.

An informal preliminary county-by-county assessment of Minnesota counties conducted by the USDA Farm Service Agency, found that 49 of the 87 counties are eligible for emergency assistance and that 95 percent of cropland has been impacted by the severe unseasonably dry conditions. To be eligible, a county must have one or more crop sustain a 30 percent or greater loss. The FSA will work with each county to formalize loss assessments and submit the data to the state Division of Emergency Management for a formal application to be made next week.

I want to encourage all affected counties to work together with the Farm Service Agency to provide this data as soon as possible in order to expedite the process, added Governor Pawlenty. Forty-nine counties is just an estimate at this point and that number could very well be higher.

Governor Pawlentys request will be made to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman, who has the authority to designate counties as federal agriculture disaster areas, making farmers eligible for low interest loans through USDA.

The projected loss in crop value of $1.1 billion is approximately a 29 percent loss in value compared to 2002 values, the Governor said.

Were fortunate that the vast majority of producers have crop insurance for times just like this, the Governor said. But were hopeful the federal government will provide additional relief for Minnesota farmers affected by these challenging times.

The 49 Minnesota counties that have at least 30 percent loss on at least one crop at this time including Fillmore and Houston counties.

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