Minnesota Department of Agriculture officials and other state agricultural leaders met last week to discuss how organizations and state and federal governments may provide assistance.
At the time, the state's far southwest, southeast and northwest regions were considered moderately and severely impacted by drought, according to the Midwest U.S. Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_midwest.htm). The west side of the state was termed abnormally dry. The remainder of the state had adequate moisture.
Ag commissioner Dave Frederickson issued a statement as follows:
"It has been a bizarre stretch of weather for much of the state, from a warm and dry winter to a wet spring to a summer of drought. Crop and weather reports show Minnesota is in better condition on average than other corn-belt states, but farmers don't farm in the aggregate.
"Rainfall has been spotty, and the health of an individual farmer's crops – and his or her financial outlook – can vary dramatically depending on whether the fields happened to be under the right cloud at the right time. For livestock producers, even those with forage and feed on hand, the hot and dry summer has stressed animals and intensified concerns about feed costs...
"Recognizing this growing crisis, we recently sat down the leaders from many of Minnesota's top agricultural organizations to ask them how state and federal officials might help. We can't make it rain, but we can help farmers in three specific ways: first, by making sure federal officials are aware that Minnesota farmers are suffering from this drought; second, by making it easier for farmers to find useful crop and weather information; and third, by helping farmers access the range of state and federal programs available to help them.
"…We have consolidated important drought-related information for farmers on our Minnesota Department of Agriculture website. The site has information about crop and weather conditions, as well as federal and state resources that can help farmers deal with the impacts of those conditions. We will continue to work with the Farm Service Agency and other partners to update our site to make sure it includes the best information to help Minnesota farmers dealing with this situation.
"I encourage any farm family facing a financial or personal crisis to take advantage of the confidential help available through our Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network. We have included MFAN information on our website, and farmers can contact the program by calling 1-877-898-MFAN (6326)."
To access information, please visit MDA's drought website at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/drought