WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN), both members of the Agriculture Committee, announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering additional technical and financial assistance for farmers and livestock producers impacted by the ongoing drought.

This follows a letter sent by Klobuchar, Smith, and Representatives Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), Angie Craig (D-MN), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) asking the department to consider authorizing emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to aid livestock producers in areas affected by the drought.

“The drought across the upper Midwest has created incredibly difficult conditions for Minnesota’s farmers and livestock producers,” Klobuchar said. “I’m grateful the USDA is offering additional assistance during this challenging time, and I will continue pushing for policies and resources to meet the needs of our rural communities.”

“The severe drought that we're experiencing right now is devastating for Minnesota agriculture,” Smith said. “Cattle producers are running out of hay to feed their herds and farmers are watching their crop yields drop. I’m pushing USDA to do everything it can to help, and this assistance could help lessen the drought's impact on Minnesota's farm economy. I encourage Minnesota producers to reach out to their local USDA Service Center to take advantage of these programs.”

Farmers and livestock producers who have experienced losses due to the drought are encouraged to reach out to their local USDA service center to learn about relief program offerings. Programs include compensation for transportation expenses, cost-share and technical assistance, and guaranteed loans.

Klobuchar and Smith have been leaders in supporting agricultural and rural communities throughout the severe drought and pandemic. In April 2020, the Senators worked to ensure farmers would be eligible for federal small business support and urged Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) to include provisions authorizing programs and funding for the USDA to assist the domestic poultry industry in any legislation to address the impact of the pandemic. The Senators also successfully pushed to include relief for livestock producers in the bipartisan coronavirus relief bill in December 2020. In May 2021, Klobuchar announced that turkey producers who experienced pandemic related losses would be eligible for additional relief through USDA programs. And when COVID-19 shut down plants and caused an animal welfare crisis due to overcrowding, Smith led a bipartisan Senate push to help pork producers humanely depopulate herds to prevent animal suffering. In June 2021, the Senators urged the USDA to expedite financial support and relief for farmers and livestock producers. In July, Smith introduced the CRP Flexibility Act, of which Klobuchar is an original cosponsor, to allow future emergency haying on federal Conservation Reserve Program land.

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