WILLMAR -- President Obama recently approved a request that 34 Minnesota counties be declared primary disaster areas due to severe storms and spring flooding that occurred on or after March 16.
Farm families in the 34 primary disaster counties, or in any county contiguous to the 34 counties, may qualify for the Farm Service Agency's Emergency Loan program.
Several local counties were declared primary disaster areas. The local counties include Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Renville, Stevens, Swift and Yellow Medicine. Local contiguous counties include Meeker, Kandiyohi and Pope.
To qualify for an emergency loan, the applicant must be the owner or operator of a family farm that suffered at least a 30 percent loss in the production of any single crop, or a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate or chattel property.
In addition, producers must be unable to receive other credit, demonstrate loan repayment ability, have acceptable credit history, and provide collateral to secure the loan.
Producers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses to a maximum of $500,000. The current interest rate on emergency loans is 3.75 percent.
Loans are normally repaid in one to seven years. However, under special circumstances, loan terms of up to 20 years may be authorized.
Applications must be received by Jan. 24, 2012. For additional information, contact the Farm Service Agency at your local USDA Service Center.
CRP participants must control weeds
Conservation Reserve Program participants are reminded that their contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture require them to comply with Minnesota's noxious weed law.
During the months of June and July, participants should be carefully inspecting their acres. If noxious weeds are present, corrective action must be taken before the weeds go to seed.
Failure to comply with Minnesota's noxious weed law could result in a reduction in the participant's annual rental rate, or even contract cancellation.
Before performing any weed control measures, participants must request and receive permission from their Farm Service Agency office. Requesting and receiving prior approval is especially important during the primary nesting season.
The primary nesting season for Kandiyohi County and most surrounding counties began May 15 and will continue through Aug. 1. During this period, CRP cover should not be disturbed except for necessary weed control measures and only with prior approval from FSA.
In the interest of protecting nesting habitat, treatment should be limited to the areas infested with weeds.
Since many CRP fields border farmland devoted to crop production, CRP participants should make every effort to be a "good neighbor" by assuring that any noxious weeds don't spread to adjacent cropland.
Three weeds added to noxious weed list
Upon the direction and guidance of the newly formed Noxious Weed Advisory Committee, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is updating its 2011 noxious weed list by adding wild parsnip, spotted knapweed and common tansy.
The Minnesota Noxious Weed Law was created in 1985 to protect residents from the damaging effects of noxious weeds, which can cause major problems for agricultural producers and land managers.
Weed species like leafy spurge will reduce forage quality for livestock operations and can be extremely toxic if ingested by grazing animals. Others, such as purple loosestrife, have been known to take over landscapes, cause problems by plugging agricultural drainage ditches or severely damaging shoreline habitat.
County ag inspectors, township officials and city mayors are responsible for enforcing the law. Landowners that neglect to control or eradicate noxious weeds on their properties can be subjected to enforcement.
Neglecting to comply with an official order to control noxious weeds can result in a misdemeanor fine, or an assessment against the property in question for hiring to have the work done on behalf of the county.
To view the most current listing of noxious weeds in Minnesota, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/weedcontrol.
USDA finds increased supplies of hay
According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, the supply of hay on U.S. farms totaled 22.2 million tons on May 1, up from 20.9 million tons on May 1, 2010.
Minnesota's on-farm hay supply totaled 810,000 tons on May 1, up from 630,000 tons one year ago, and up from 790,000 tons on May 1, 2009.
Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.