Minnesota to use $7.7M in CARES funding to support farmers, ag producers

Minnesota will use $7.7 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support agricultural producers, meat processors and farmers impacted by COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday.

"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," Walz said. "As someone who grew up on a family farm, I stand with our farmers and am proud to allocate this much-needed support."

Walz’s office said the funding includes:

  • $1,000,000 for cost-share aid to companies or individuals looking to expand or open a meat processing facility to 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, which will be offered by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and help farmers manage their finances and learn how to navigate the complicated financial systems of farming.
  • $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. The funding would also support a new cost-share program to help on-farm direct marketers and farmers markets buy necessary equipment and supplies for staff and customer health.

"Agriculture is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy," added Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. "And like many other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way farmers and agricultural businesses must operate. As the Governor and I visit with farmers across the state and hear their stories firsthand, we are committed to working in partnership to tackle these challenges and making sure Minnesota can keep feeding the region and the world."