Farmers to get recovery funds
WORTHINGTON -- Farmers in 29 Minnesota counties, including those in the six counties of far southwest Minnesota, are now eligible for up to 100 percent cost-share to repair or install existing erosion control practices due to late-September flooding.
Minnesota's Board of Water and Soil Resources received $13 million through the flood disaster relief law approved during a special legislative session on Oct. 18.
Of the total appropriation, $10 million has been designated for the Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) program, with $3 million set aside to install, repair or rehabilitate erosion and sediment control projects in the disaster area.
Nobles and Cottonwood county Soil and Water Conservation Districts were given $50,000 each, with Pipestone, Rock, Murray and Jackson counties to get $25,000 each to assist farmers. Applications for additional funding will be accepted if counties use all of the funds appropriated to them.
Ed Lenz, Nobles County SWCD Manager, said all of the funding must be secured for projects within 60 days. He encourages farmers to call or stop in at their local SWCD office as soon as possible.
"We're on a short timeline," he said, adding that the potential for 100 percent cost-share can be quite appealing for landowners.
"Some of the people that have been aware of an erosion problem, or they have something that gets worse due to flooding (haven't done projects because they) couldn't come up with the 25 percent cost-share," Lenz said.
The late September storm that dumped five to 10 inches of rain in areas of Nobles County has caused damage to waterways, sediment basins and terraces.
"We had additional gullying out in the fields," said Lenz, adding that high water also undercut waterways on some properties.
"Our terraces held up quite well from what we've seen, but then again, we haven't been out there since the crops have been harvested," he said. "That's why we need the farmers to come to us, because we can't inspect the entire county for damage."
One project Lenz said he's already aware of is a waterway that was completed just last summer. It will have to be redone because the newly planted grasses weren't able to slow down the floodwaters. Projects like that one will be a high priority in the county, he added.
The $10 million appropriation for RIM is available to landowners interested in planting buffers along streams, as well as to complete wetland restoration projects. RIM, which is a conservation easement program, will pay landowners from $4,000 to $6,000 per acre to take marginal cropland out of production.
"That will help with future flooding issues, as well as improved water quality," Lenz said.
In Jackson County, SWCD Manager Brian Nyborg said he anticipates getting calls from farmers as they wrap up their fall tillage.
"I haven't heard of much damage yet," he said. "We had one waterway built in the summer that the bottom kind of blew out of; otherwise the other projects did their job."
Nyborg was disappointed Jackson County only received $25,000. That may have been because some areas of Jackson County received just 3.5 inches of rain in the September storm, he added.
Nevertheless, he encourages farmers to stop in for more information about cost-share funds.
"We need to get the landowners in here and get those projects (signed up) for cost-share," Nyborg added.