Weather Forecast


Applications being accepted for storage facility loan program

WILLMAR -- It may still be several months away, but farmers are already looking ahead and making plans for the fall harvest.

After last year's extended and rather difficult harvest season, many farmers may have discovered a need to increase their grain storage capacity or upgrade their grain drying and grain handling facilities.

Due to modifications authorized by the 2008 farm bill, many farmers are utilizing the improved and very affordable financing terms that are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.

Some of the more notable modifications include an increase in the maximum loan amounts; the availability of extended loan terms; and an expanded list of commodities and crops that will qualify for the program.

Previously, the maximum loan amount, including the remaining balance on all other outstanding loans, was limited to $100,000. Under the new provisions, the maximum loan amount has been increased to $500,000.

As in the past, any loans in excess of $50,000 will require additional security. The additional security can consist of either a first lien on the underlying real estate or another form of security, such as a guaranteed letter of credit that meets USDA approval.

Previously, loan terms were limited to a maximum of seven years. Depending upon the amount of the loan, terms of seven, 10 or 12 years are now available. However, the interest rate in effect for each loan term may be different, based on the rate at which USDA borrows from the Treasury Department.

For example, the interest rate for loans approved during the month of July will be 2.75 percent for a seven -year loan; 3.25 percent for a 10-year loan; and 3.5 percent for a 12-year loan.

The 2008 farm bill also expanded the list of eligible commodities. In addition to the traditional grain crops like corn, soybeans and small grains, the list of eligible commodities now includes hay, fruit and vegetable crops, and a wide variety of renewable biomass crops.

Verification of hay quality losses necessary for disaster program

Due to this year's wet spring, many local hay producers may have experienced quality losses. Producers are reminded that the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program may provide assistance to producers who suffered qualifying crop production or quality losses due to adverse weather.

To qualify for any disaster benefits due to hay quality losses, producers are required to perform quality tests for each cutting. In addition, evidence must be maintained to verify how much production was affected by the quality loss.

There are several eligibility requirements that producers must meet to qualify for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program.

One requirement is that the producer must suffer at least a 10 percent production loss on at least one crop of economic significance. A significant crop is defined as a crop that contributes at least 5 percent of a farm's expected revenue.

Another requirement is that producers must have an interest in a crop that was produced in a county, or a county contiguous to a county, that received an agricultural disaster declaration for crop production losses.

Producers not meeting the disaster declaration requirement may still qualify for assistance. However, their entire farming operation must have suffered at least a 50 percent reduction in production.

The definition of a farming operation includes all crops, produced on all land, and in all counties.

Five cases of rabies confirmed in domestic animals

On July 1, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed a fifth case of rabies in domestic animals so far this year.

The latest case was a farm cat from Todd County that tested positive for the rabies virus on June 24. The cat exposed several family members, one of the family dogs, and may have exposed several other animals as well.

These cases serve as a reminder of the risk that rabies can have, especially when the virus infects domestic animals.

The most likely exposure for domestic animals is skunks, of which almost 50 percent tested positive for rabies last year when tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Domestic animals that live in urban areas are also at risk, as bats are another common vector for the rabies virus in Minnesota.

The feral cat population, in both urban and rural areas, can also pose an unknown risk for exposure to all domestic animals.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.