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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 12 2010

Farmers in Minnesota counties due aid

ST. PAUL – Farmers in 16 Minnesota counties will be eligible for emergency loans and other help after dealing with multiple weather problems.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday announced the farmers, mostly in northern Minnesota, are due federal aid because their farms have sustained excessive rain, flooding, frost and cold.

“Many farm operations are already struggling with low farm prices, and these weather disasters have made it even harder for them to operate,” said Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

Counties in the disaster declaration include Hubbard, Mahnomen and Wilkin. Federal officials said they will decide on a case-by-case basis what farmers are eligible for aid. Local Farm Services Administration offices are farmers’ points of contact.

Aid usually consists of low-interest loans.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty requested the disaster declaration on Jan. 11. His office said farmers in the affected counties lost at least 30 percent of their corn, soybeans, canola, sunflowers, flax, barley, oats, blueberries, honey, dry edible beans, rye and sugar beet crops.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.