ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Disaster Recovery Loan Program is now accessible to farmers who are suffering financial damages related to the COVID-19 outbreak after the Legislature expanded access to the funds.

Legislative approval of a bill March 26 increased program flexibility, providing a resource to farmers for expenses not covered by insurance.

“Our farmers are being hit hard by this outbreak and this change provides them some additional resources,” said Rep. Dean Urdahl, a GOP lawmaker from rural Grove City.

“We need to be flexible, providing commonsense discretion where we can while still maintaining the integrity and spirit of programs such as this. I hope this move is helpful to farmers because they are the backbone of our society and keep our local economies alive,” Urdahl said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, in the event of human diseases that result in a declaration of a peacetime emergency or highly contagious animal diseases, funds can be used to replace livestock or flocks, make building improvements, or cover the loss of revenue.

Loan proceeds may also be used to repair or replace septic and water systems, and replace destroyed agricultural buildings.

This loan participation program is available through the Rural Finance Authority and farmers will work through their local lender. According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, after the loan application is completed, the lender will apply for Rural Finance Authority participation.

The Rural Finance Authority participation in a qualifying loan is limited to 45 percent of the principal amount, up to $200,000. Interest rate on that portion of the loan must not exceed 4.0 percent, and is currently set at 0.0 percent.

Other terms, conditions and qualification standards apply and can be found at the MDA website, or by calling 651-201-6666.