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As Minnesota's drought worsens, Walz reaches out to the USDA for aid

In a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack, the governor asked to allow farmers to graze their animals on the state's CRP acres.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota has been missing the rain this year, and much of the burden caused by dry weather falls on our farmers. On Thursday, Governor Tim Walz reached out to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeking relief.

The governor's letter, addressed to Secretary Tom Vilsack, asked for permission for famers to graze their herds and cut hay from Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in areas that are experiencing Level D2 or greater drought conditions.

This land is normally set aside from production and planting to improve the environment, according to the Farm Service Agency.

Walz wrote that the quality of forage is quickly deteriorating on this land, and that waiting any longer would eliminate the advantages of this resource. If quality feed isn't available to farmers, they'll be forced to either purchase hay or sell their animals.

KARE 11 spoke with farmer Bruce Nelson at his Big Marine Country Farms earlier in the week, and he said that even after the rain our area got on Wednesday, the state just hasn't seen enough moisture this season. 

“I’ve got some friends in the Red River Valley, and those people are hurting out there. Western Minnesota, they’re hurting. I’ve got my son’s father-in-law over in Wisconsin, there are already guys over there plowing their corn over because they’re gonna get nothing," Nelson said. "Those people who make their living off the land and need to make their house payment, equipment payment, those people are struggling. My heart goes out to them. I know it can't get more difficult than that."

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of July 8 nearly 40% of the state was under Level D2 or greater drought conditions. 

RELATED: Finally, some rain for farmers in Minnesota, but they need more

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