CANNON FALLS, Minn. — Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Gary Wertish joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Rep. Angie Craig in Cannon Falls Thursday to discuss drought conditions throughout Minnesota, the next Farm Bill, climate change, beginning farmers and competition and consolidation.
According to the latest Drought Monitor, released August 12, nearly 78% of Minnesota is in severe to exceptional drought, with more than 7% in exceptional drought. At severe drought, fire danger is high, the ground is hard and river flows are low. By extreme drought, surface waters are near record lows and wildfires are widespread.
Not only is the drought deepening in Minnesota, but also across wide swaths of the nation. The drought is hitting livestock producers especially hard as they lack forage for feed. Fruit and vegetable growers in the state are coping with the dual impacts of a late frost and severe drought. The impact on conventional row-crop producers won’t be known until harvest.
Small grain producers are seeing the impacts of the drought now. According to the Drought Monitor, 46 percent of the barley crop was in poor or very poor condition, compared with 4 percent at this time last year. Also, about 60 percent of the spring wheat crop was in poor or very poor condition, compared to 7 percent last year.
“Earlier this week, we sent a letter to Gov. Walz and agricultural leaders in the Legislature calling for ‘rapid-response grants’ to help farmers and ranchers respond to the drought,” Wertish said. “Today, we shared our concerns firsthand with Secretary Vilsack.
“We are grateful the secretary came to Minnesota to hear directly from farmers,” Wertish continued. “While the secretary was in Cannon Falls, we shared our support for the Biden administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. Now more than ever, farmers need a fair price in a competitive marketplace.”
Vilsack visited the Chip and Micki Callister farm. The Callisters raise corn, soybeans and cattle.
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org, and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
— Minnesota Farmers Union
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