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Wadena County designated disaster area due to winterkill losses

Wadena County farmers can apply for low interest emergency loans to help recover and get started for the 2016 growing season after winter kill in 2015.

As Wadena County farmers recover from losses in 2015, they are hoping for an early start in 2016.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Wadena, Hubbard, Morrison and Todd counties as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by winterkill that occurred from April 25, 2015, through Sept. 10, 2015.

Mike Stevens, executive director for the Wadena and Hubbard County Farm Service Agency said his office worked with local farmers to document the losses. The designation came as a result of the diligent documentation.

Farmers have until the end of June to apply for low interest emergency loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

The local FSA offices will work with farmers on the application process.

Winter kill was due to extremely low temperatures in early 2015, along with a lack of snow. As a result, many alfalfa fields in the area had bare spots.

Because of the winter kill, the market saw temporary shortages in alfalfa seed and higher prices.

"Our hearts go out to those Minnesota farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a news release. "USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood."

Farmers and ranchers in Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Otter Tail and Stearns counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

This spring, farmers are hoping for more rain after a winter with very little snow cover. If warmer than normal temperatures continue, farmers could have an early planting season.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program and the Tree Assistance Program.

Interested farmers may contact Stevens at the Wadena County USDA Service Center at (218) 631-2876 for more information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561
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