MARSHALL — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has designated nine Minnesota counties as natural disaster areas due to drought.
On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said farms in affected counties may be eligible for help from the state’s Farm Service Agency and Disaster Recovery Loans.
In an Oct. 11 letter to Gov. Tim Walz, Vilsack said he was designating Lincoln, Lyon, MacLeod, Murray, Nicollet, Pipestone, Redwood, Rice and Wright counties as prime natural disaster areas. According to the US Drought Monitor, those counties have experienced severe drought for eight or more consecutive weeks, or extreme or exceptional drought conditions.
In addition, a total of 20 counties in Minnesota and four in South Dakota were designated as contiguous counties in the event of a disaster. Brown, Nobles, Renville, Rock and Yellow Medicine counties were all on the list of contiguous counties.
In his letter, Vilsack said his disaster declaration would make farm operators in the primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency. That assistance could include FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties will have eight months to apply for emergency loans.
Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with more information, Vilsack said. In social media posts Monday, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said affected counties may also be eligible for Disaster Recovery Loans.
The October 13 drought map for Minnesota showed that parts of Lyon, Lincoln, Pipestone, Murray and Redwood counties were all in extreme drought as of last week.
Precipitation data from the National Weather Service showed what an abnormally dry fall the Marshall area has had. In September, Marshall received just 1.08 inches of precipitation, when the average for that month was 3.06 inches.