The Minnesota Department of Agriculture offers the following recovery and assistance programs for farmers impacted by natural disasters. Information about these programs can be accessed online at www.mda.state.mn.us.
- The Minnesota Farmers Assistance Network (MFAN) includes a telephone helpline that will connect farm families with the appropriate resources to address their needs.
- The Farm Advocate Program provides one-on-one assistance for Minnesota farmers who face crisis caused by either a natural disaster or financial problems.
- The Rural Finance Authority offers a variety of loan programs through an established network of cooperating local banks and financial lending institutions.
- The Livestock Development Team offers one-on-one assistance to producers who plan to rebuild.
The Minnesota Farmers Assistance Network
MFAN volunteers are experts who will help farmers assess their needs and access a variety of services to get them back on their feet. All calls, discussions, financial information and decisions of the farm families are confidential. As needed, a certified financial analyst will provide one-on-one mentoring and financial guidance to farm families who are considering business reorganization or transition. There is no fee for MFAN services. The helpline is answered 24/7 by calling (877) 898- 6326.
The Farm Advocate Program
The Farm Advocate Program provides one-on-one assistance to farmers in crisis. These advocates understand the needs of our agricultural families and communities. They are trained and experienced in disaster programs, agricultural lending practices, mediation, lender negotiation, farm programs and crisis counseling. There is no fee for use of the Farm Advocate Program. Call the Farm Advocate Hotline at (800) 967-2474.
The Rural Finance Authority (RFA)
The RFA offers low-interest loans each with its own eligibility, terms and collateral requirements. They include:
1) The Disaster Recovery Loan Program is designed to help farmers affected by a natural disaster that has led to a federal disaster declaration. The funds are available to farmers for expenses not covered by insurance. The funds can be used to help clean up, repair, or replace farm structures and septic and water systems, as well as replace seed, other crop inputs, feed, and livestock, when damaged by high winds, hail, tornado, floods or excessive rainfall.
The Disaster Recovery Loan Program offers affordable financing to repair existing agricultural buildings to pre-disaster conditions. To replace means to construct a structure of the same functional purpose and capacity as the structure(s) that was destroyed. Current technologies may be utilized in the replacement structure. Loan proceeds may also be used to repair or replace septic and water systems, and replace destroyed agricultural buildings with similar capacity and function.
The RFA participation in a qualifying loan is limited to 45 percent of the principal amount up to a maximum of $50,000. Interest rate on the RFA portion of the loan is currently set at 3.0 percent. Down payment and collateral requirements will be determined by the agricultural lender and the authority. Loan amortization will be scheduled on flexible terms not to exceed 10 years. Loan payments of interest only are permitted for the first two years. There is no maximum on the size of loan that a participating lender may make under the program.
2) The Livestock Expansion Loan Program is another opportunity to help producers who may decide to rebuild after a natural disaster. This loan provides funding to pay for improvements to a livestock operation, including the purchase, construction or installation of improvements to land, buildings, and other permanent structures, including equipment. The purchase of livestock is NOT an eligible purpose for this program.