Aid available for flood damaged fields
Looking at the dry, yellow stalks of corn in many Dakota County fields, it might be hard to think of the flood waters that stood in many of those same fields early in the 2012 growing season.
But the Minnesota Department of Agriculture remembers those days, and, most likely, so do the farmers who planted those fields. That's why the MDA is accepting applications for flood assistance from agricultural producers in 15 Minnesota counties, including Dakota County.
The MDA's Flood Disaster Assistance Program was announced last week, with a deadline of Oct. 24 for applications.
"The idea behind this funding is that it's a program to help farmers who are impacted by last summer's floods," said MDA communications manager Michael Schommer.
The MDA has $600,000 set aside to distribute through this program. The funding was part of a larger assistance program that was approved during the special legislative session Aug. 24, Schommer said.
Eligible losses include things like feed and forage damages, damages to buildings or other agricultural structures, agricultural equipment losses, organic and specialty crop losses and cleanup expenses.
The amounts allocated will be determined by the number of applications received, and the types of claims that come in.
The extent of the damage varies from farm to farm, Schommer added. Variables like topography, soil quality and the stage of development for some of the crops could mean that one neighbor's crops were unaffected, while another's suffered serious damages.
"The exact impact of the damage really varies," Schommer said. "Part of the frustration people have is that the damages can vary quite a bit from one farm to another."
The Flood Disaster Assistance Program will require applicants to provide lists of feed or forage losses, capital damages, debris removal expenses and photocopied receipts or verified estimates. The applications are available online.
At this point, Schommer said, it is too soon to tell how much damage the recent drought has caused for Minnesota's farmers.
"We'll have to see how the harvest goes and see what kind of yields come back first," he said. "It's hard to start talking in specifics on what the response might be at this time."
The MDA has a number of programs that are designed to help farmers. That information can be found on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's website, www.mda.state.mn.us. Applications for the Flood Disaster Assistance Program are located on the website, as well. Farmers with questions are encouraged to contact Kevin Plante, Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network coordinator, by calling 651-201-6326; or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It's been a very interesting weather year. I don't know how else to say it," Schommer said.