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USDA helps fund water, wastewater projects in four rural communities

By Wes Nelson

Farm Service Agency

WILLMAR — Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that it would provide $203 million in funds to help finance 74 water and infrastructure projects in 40 states, including projects in four rural Minnesota communities.

The funding, which is being provided through the Water and Environmental Program administered by USDA’s Rural Development, will have a significant impact on rural residents and businesses in the communities receiving funds.

The four Minnesota communities that will receive funding include:

City of Cyrus — $900,000 loan and a $600,000 grant to make water system improvements.

City of Hanley Falls — $156,000 grant to replace a force water main and repaint the city’s water tower.

City of Longville — $359,000 loan and a $311,000 grant for sewer improvements.

City of St. Martin — $1,740,000 loan and a $1,370,000 grant for wastewater improvements.

Having reliable and affordable water and wastewater treatment facilities can help rural communities expand their economic opportunities, while improving the quality of life for its residents.

In the interest of revitalizing and increasing economic activity in rural communities, USDA’s Rural Development provides funding opportunities in the form of payments, grants, loans and loan guarantees to help communities fund crucial water, wastewater treatment and related infrastructure improvements.

These investments support long-term national prosperity by ensuring that rural communities have the basic infrastructure necessary to become self-sustaining and compete in the global economy.

To learn more about the various programs available to assist rural communities with needed infrastructure improvements, including electrical and telecommunication services, visit Rural Development’s website at

Corrected ballots mailed for election of FSA county committees

Corrected ballots for the 2013 Farm Service Agency county committee election were recently mailed to all eligible voters. The corrected ballots replace those mailed in early November, which due to a design flaw were deemed invalid and unusable.

Anyone who returned the original ballot should note that your ballot envelope was neither opened nor tabulated, and has since been shredded by your local FSA office. Therefore, if you want your vote counted, you’ll need to vote again using the corrected ballot and return it by the election deadline of Jan. 17.

To be eligible to vote, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by the FSA. Owners of land producing agricultural commodities or products, including spouses that are listed on the property deed, are considered eligible to vote.

There are nearly 7,700 county committee members serving the 2,244 FSA offices located nationwide. Generally, committees consist of three to five members who serve three-year terms.

Since the terms of county committee members are staggered, only about one-third of the county committee positions are up for election each year. Check with your local FSA office to verify if you are eligible to vote in this year’s election.

Eligible voters who did not receive a ballot can obtain one at their local FSA office.

County committee members make many important decisions regarding the local administration of the various commodity, price support, conservation, and disaster assistance programs administered by the USDA.

Farmers to receive irrigation survey from USDA

For the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the irrigation practices being used by farmers and ranchers, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will mail a survey to approximately 35,000 producers across the United States. Those receiving a survey will need to complete and return it by Feb. 10.

Producers will need to provide USDA with information regarding their water sources, the amount of water used, number of acres irrigated by type of system, crop yields, system investments and energy costs.

The results of this survey will assist USDA and others in efforts to develop and promote efficient irrigation practices and ensure long-term sustainability of water resources. Survey results will be made available Oct. 30, 2014.

Just like USDA’s Census of Agriculture, the farm and ranch irrigation survey is conducted once every five years. The survey will involve a sampling of all farmers who indicated on their 2012 census form that they use irrigation on their farming operation.

Since the irrigation survey is a supplement to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, United States law requires all who receive a survey to respond.

Minnesota spring wheat and oat production down dramatically

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spring wheat production in Minnesota totaled 66.1 million bushels this year, down 11.5 percent from 2012. Spring wheat yields in Minnesota averaged 57 bushels per acre, equal to the average in 2012.

Spring wheat acres harvested for grain totaled 1.16 million acres, also down 11.5 percent from 2012.

Oat production in Minnesota was estimated at 6 million bushels, down 28.5 percent from last year. Oat yields in Minnesota averaged 57 bushels per acre, down 5 bushels from 2012.

Oat acres harvested for grain totaled 105,000 acres, down 22 percent from 2012.

Stearns County was Minnesota’s largest oat-producing county with 642,000 bushels, twice as much as any other county.

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