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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz has signed a bill that stops farm foreclosures until Dec. 1 for farmers struggling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic who elect to take part in creditor mediation.

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Minnesota’s Farmer-Lender Mediation Act requires any creditor foreclosing on agricultural debt of $15,000 or more to provide the debtor a legal notice of their right to a neutral state mediator. The law normally provides for 90 days to reach agreement. But the legislation that unanimously passed the House and Senate last week and was signed Monday temporarily extends the deadline to 150 days or Dec. 1, whichever is later.

Rep. Todd Lippert, of Northfield, says his bill is meant to help farmers stay on the farm as they face packing plant and ethanol plant shutdowns, low milk prices and the need to euthanize hogs and poultry.

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Paul Sobocinski, an organizer with the Land Stewardship Project who farms near Wabasso, says farmers need to be aware of their rights under the new law. He says it protects them from foreclosure through harvest time, and buys time for the markets to recover and for federal aid to come to farmers.

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