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Walz announces aid for farmers impacted by COVID-19

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. (State of Minnesota photo)
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ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced Monday a $7.7 million plan to support ag producers, meat processors and farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the financial support will help farmers who have experienced market disruptions recover from and purchase equipment and supplies necessary for COVID-19.

“Market instability and unprecedented weather conditions put farmers in a tough place even before COVID-19," Walz said. "The work they’ve done to continue to feed Minnesotans and our nation throughout this challenging time is remarkable. As someone who grew up on a family farm, I stand with our farmers and am proud to allocate this much-needed support.”

Following the governor’s announcement, he toured southern Minnesota farms in Northfield, Austin and Albert Lea to hear about how farmers have been impacted by COVID-19 and to discuss the future of their operations.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy,” Flanagan said. “And like many other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way farmers and agricultural businesses must operate. As the governor and I visit with farmers across the state and hear their stories firsthand, we are committed to working in partnership to tackle these challenges and making sure Minnesota can keep feeding the region and the world.”

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“Thanks to Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, this funding will be a great boost to Minnesota farmers during this particularly challenging time,” Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said. “Additional funding for meat processing, local food systems, direct payments, and other programs will help many Minnesota farm and food businesses recover from the negative impacts of COVID-19.”

The funding includes:

  • $5.75 million for direct payments to turkey and pork producers to compensate for market disruptions and associated costs due to COVID-19.

  • $1 million for cost share aid to companies or individuals looking to expand or open a meat processing facility. A further investment in meat processing capabilities will help alleviate the back up of animals caused by supply-chain impacts of COVID-19.

  • $500,000 for local food systems, many of which have shifted their businesses to stay afloat, while others faced losses as wholesale markets closed.

  • $250,000 for Farm Business Management scholarships. Offered by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the scholarships will help farmers manage their finances and learn how to navigate the complicated financial systems of farming, which have been impacted significantly by COVID-19.

  • $200,000 for farmer and food security support to reimburse the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for grants that provided Minnesota-grown food in school summer meal programs. This funding would also support a new cost-share program to help on-farm direct marketers and farmers markets purchase equipment and supplies necessary for staff and customer health.

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREMINNESOTA
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