House passes drought relief bill

Today, the Minnesota House passed a drought relief package by a bipartisan 101-33 vote.

“This is good news for farmers who are struggling to pay for hay to feed their livestock and specialty growers who are planning for spring planting,” said Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Gary Wertish. “Thank you to Rep. Sundin for sponsoring this legislation and to all the legislators who voted in favor of this bill.”

The bill, House File (HF) 3420, is sponsored by House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko. The bill expands eligibility for the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) Disaster Recovery Loan Program, appropriates money for rapid response grants to eligible farmers, and provides additional funding for drought-relief loans.

Minnesota Farmers Union first called for a drought relief package that includes rapid response grants in August. In September, Wertish joined Gov. Walz at an event announcing the drought aid package and in October, Wertish testified at a House hearing on the drought. MFU has continued to advocate for drought relief since the session began Jan. 31.

Darrel Mosel, who owns a 70-cow dairy in Stearns County, said he appreciates the House passing the drought assistance for farmers.

“Some of our corn yielded six bushels to the acre last year, the worst yield ever in my 45 years of farming,” he said. “I lost two crops of hay to the drought and as a result I’m buying expensive, lower quality hay. I appreciate the state legislators passing this funding to help dairy farmers like me pay for more feed. I sure hope it passes the Senate soon.”