The Docket: Senate passes bill aimed at helping farmers impacted by drought

This week, the Minnesota Senate unanimously passed a bill to help those still feeling the impacts.
Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 5:02 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 1, 2022 at 9:22 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) - Last summer might be long gone, but for farmers, the effects of the drought are still felt throughout the industry.

David Bau is an Extension Educator at the University of Minnesota Extension.

He said livestock producers are particularly feeling the impacts.

“Livestock producers are the ones that are hurt the most. The grain producers, the prices really helped, the fact that you have good crop insurance levels, revenue products, that really helps the farmers for protection. But then we’re going back to the livestock part, they don’t have those same protections,” said Bau.

This week, the Minnesota Senate unanimously passed a bill to help those still feeling the impacts.

The $10 million bill appropriates $7 million for grants of up to $5,000 for livestock and specialty crop farmers located in counties that were designated as a primary natural disaster area by the USDA between July 20 and Dec. 31, 2021.

That includes all or parts of 67 Minnesota counties.

Grants would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The ones hit the hardest were the livestock farmers. The farmers I talked to that put the hay up, they had one last cutting than normal. With the cost of feed being what it is, there are pockets throughout Minnesota that really got hit hard,” said Sen. Rich Draheim (R - Madison Lake).

“What we’re trying to do is help those farmers that were most effected by the drought, and I’m very pleased to see that they put it together,” said Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL - North Mankato).

The package also includes measures to help farmers amid the recent cases of avian flu.

It includes $1 million for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota to purchase equipment to test for avian influenza, African Swine Fever, chronic wasting disease and other animal diseases.

The bill now goes back to the House, which passed its companion bill on March 10.

If the House can’t agree on the Senate bill’s language, it’ll then go to a conference committee.

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