The Potluck

Lawmakers add drought relief for Minnesota farmers to September legislative session agenda

By: - August 6, 2021 2:20 pm
Farmer harvesting soybeans near Worthington, Minnesota

Soybean production. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Lawmakers are preparing a drought relief package to aid Minnesota farmers and livestock producers, Gov. Tim Walz said Friday during a virtual roundtable discussion. 

Farmers told Walz and Agriculture Commissioner Thom Peterson about their struggles with dry fields, as well as efforts by some livestock producers to cull their herds because of the drought’s impact on feed. 

The Legislature is returning in a special legislative session next month to take up pandemic bonus pay for frontline workers, and the agenda is now expanding because of this summer’s punishing drought. 

“This is one of those issues if we’re coming in anyway to deal with the essential workers, it makes sense because it unifies us around the issue,” Walz said during his Friday remarks. “This is a statewide issue.”

The effort is bipartisan, as lawmakers who traveled to Redwood Falls for the annual Farmfest trade show heard directly from farmers.  

“I heard from folks at Farmfest about the drought conditions and know the seriousness of the issue,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement. “The state would probably be faster at providing targeted relief for our farmers than the federal government, and I’d be open to considering it at the September special session.”

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, told Fox 9 that the drought “is clearly a natural disaster that merits a state response. How we distribute aid and who exactly needs aid really depends on the market and the harvest and as soon as we know enough, we’ll start to put a package together.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.