MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan on Monday announced a plan to support agricultural producers, meat processors and farmers impacted by COVID-19.

The $7.7 million plan, funded through the federal CARES Act, will provide relief to farmers who have experience market disruptions recover from and purchase equipment necessary for COVID-19.

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“Market instability and unprecedented weather conditions put farmers in a tough place even before COVID-19. The work they’ve done to continue to feed Minnesotans and our nation throughout this challenging time is remarkable,” said Walz. “As someone who grew up on a family farm, I stand with our farmers and am proud to allocate this much-needed support.”

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On Monday, the governor will tour farms in southern Minnesota, visiting farmers and industry leaders in Northfield, Austin and Albert Lea to hear how they’ve been impacted by the pandemic.

“Thanks to Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, this funding will be a great boost to Minnesota farmers during this particularly challenging time,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “Additional funding for meat processing, local food systems, direct payments, and other programs will help many Minnesota farm and food businesses recover from the negative impacts of COVID-19.”

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The funding includes:

  • $1,000,000 for cost share aid to companies or individuals looking to expand or open a meat processing facility. A further investment in meat processing capabilities will help alleviate the back up of animals caused by supply-chain impacts of COVID-19.
  • $500,000 for local food systems, many of which have shifted their businesses to stay afloat, while others faced losses as wholesale markets closed.
  • $250,000 for Farm Business Management Scholarships. These scholarships, offered by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, help farmers manage their finances and learn how to navigate the complicated financial systems of farming, which have been impacted significantly by COVID-19.
  • $5,750,000 for direct payments to turkey and pork producers to compensate for market disruptions and associated costs due to COVID-19.
  • $200,000 for farmer and food security support to reimburse the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for grants that provided Minnesota-grown food in school summer meal programs. This funding would also support a new cost-share program to help on-farm direct marketers and farmers markets purchase equipment and supplies necessary for staff and customer health.