Aid for Minnesota livestock farmers who have lost nearly a million acres of alfalfa this year is being requested from the federal government by Gov. Mark Dayton.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Dayton asks the federal government to remove the penalty livestock producers face under the crop insurance program when they cut hay or or let livestock graze on certain land before Nov. 1.
Dayton also wants the USDA to allow emergency grazing on acres protected under the Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. Minnesota has lost nearly three-quarters of a million acres of alfalfa this year due to fall drought and winter weather.
"This situation compounds a serious shortage of forage due to severe drought conditions in Minnesota last year," Dayton said in the letter. "These events have contributed to record high forage process and a lack of availability."
Farmers are buying feed from other states and stretching what they have now while they plant more alfalfa, University of Minnesota Extension Crops Educator David Nicolai said.
"Anytime that we have more of that emergency feed available, then it's less expensive to pay probably a higher inflated cost of purchasing hay from other areas, ie, mainly from South Dakota, other parts of the upper Midwest," Nicolai said.
"Right now, we know that hay is 50 percent of more expensive than it was a year ago," Nicolai said.
"If you can source it perhaps locally, then you avoid some of those costs for transportation."