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House OKs bill making disaster recovery loans available to farmers

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House approved legislation on Thursday making disaster recovery loans available to farmers whose barns have recently collapsed under the weight of heavy snow, sleet, or ice.

Dozens of farm buildings have caved in recent days, primarily impacting southeastern Minnesota and also occurring in other parts of the state. The legislation authorizes the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority to issue Disaster Recovery Loans to farmers whose properties sustained damage retroactively to Jan. 1.

“Farmers already are facing tough times and these building collapses are devastating, particularly causing significant hardships in the dairy industry where farmers have had to move their herds off their property to be milked at other operations or even be liquidated,” Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, said in a Thursday press release. “This is a difficult situation and, while we are still waiting to hear the full extent of the damage, I am proud the House placed urgency on this bill and passed it with overwhelming support.”

Farmers can use Disaster Recovery Loans for several purposes:

• To clean up, repair, or replace farm structures and septic and water systems, as well as replace seed, other crop inputs, feed, and livestock;

• To purchase watering systems, irrigation systems, and other drought mitigation systems and practices when drought is the cause of the purchase;

• To restore farmland; or

• To replace flocks, make building improvements, or cover the loss of revenue when the replacement, improvements, or loss of revenue is due to the confirmed presence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial poultry or game flock located in Minnesota.

With the Senate having previously approved the bill, it now is in the hands of Gov. Tim Walz for enactment.

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