(Millerville, MN) The stop was perhaps more symbolic than anything, but one that was appreciated by those in attendance. Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Peterson paid a visit to the Mike and Britney Roers farm, south of Millerville Thursday. The Roers own less than a couple hundred head of milk cows, but operate a robotic milking system. They were not the only farmers or producers in attendance. Nearby farmer Joe Wagner was there too. He and his wife oversee an operation that is in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, raising between 4,000 and 5,000 beef cattle. Although a small, private gathering, there were also turkey producers, crop farmers, District 12B Republican Representative Jeff Backer, Douglas County Commissioner Keith Englund and more weighing in on the topic of the day, the drought.
Although the ultimate answer would be steady rains for the rest of the year, Wagner says it may be a little late to make a difference this year, but any rain would help with the subsoil for next year. Mike took the Governor on a tour of some of his crops affected by the lack of rain. Mike says they went out and looked at corn that’s only standing knee high this late in the season. He also led the governor and Ag Secretary on a quick tour of his milking operation. In the end it is the need for livestock feed that brings them all together.
For extended video and audio from Thursday’s visit, view below:
AUDIO: Wagner talks about the current conditions (AUDIO BELOW)
Ag Commissioner Thom Peterson comments on the challenges (AUDIO BELOW)
Governor Walz says that many different departments and organizations are coming together to try and help producers in the short term with a look at the long-term needs as well. (AUDIO BELOW)
(UPDATE) Governor Tim Walz today (Friday) met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the ongoing drought, extreme heat, and wildfires. Governor Walz asked for federal action to recognize the extreme drought conditions and increase Minnesota livestock producers’ access to lands for forage.
“Wildfires are causing the worst air quality on record in Minnesota, just as we’re heading into our warmest and driest month. Climate change is real, it’s having a direct impact on Minnesotans’ lives, and it requires all of us to work together,” said Governor Walz. “I’m grateful to President Biden for convening this conversation to help ensure we’re working together at all levels of government to address the impacts of the drought – from wildfires to dry fields and pastures.”
Over the past month, Governor Walz has been meeting with farmers and ranchers to see the impact of the drought firsthand. On Wednesday, the Governor waived trucking regulations for the transportation of forage for livestock. The Rural Finance Authority Board has made zero-interest loans available immediately for Minnesota farmers whose operations are suffering from the drought, and the Department of Natural Resources has convened the State Drought Task Force. The Governor continues to work with federal partners to create flexibility to expand access to forage for livestock.
With Thursday’s update to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 75% of Minnesota has reached at least a severe drought intensity and 22% is experiencing extreme drought. A United States Department of Agriculture Secretarial disaster declaration is active in 35 Minnesota counties.
A video of the Governor’s comments with President Biden is available here.