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Walz supports emergency relief for drought-stricken farms

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz and a top state lawmakers say they will support an emergency financial relief package for farmers in Minnesota, where most of the state is in a severe or extreme drought.

Walz says he would support an aid package in a special session next month, when lawmakers will also decide how to spend $250 million in COVID-19 pandemic pay for frontline workers.

The governor got an earful at Farmfest in Redwood County Wednesday from farmers and ranchers seeking drought relief, KMSP-TV reported.

“There will be some farmers that will be driven off the farm through no choice of their own,” said Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish.

Agriculture officials said livestock and specialty crop farmers are hardest hit because their insurance generally covers less than corn and soybean farmers.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman said a financial relief package could be modeled after previous aid that lawmakers approved after flooding.

“This drought is clearly a natural disaster that merits a state response,” said Hortman. “How we distribute aid and who exactly needs aid really depends on the market and the harvest and as soon as we know enough, we’ll start to put a package together. There are lot of unanswered questions right now.”