Photo by Dave Wild
Minnesota is one of the top livestock producers in the nation. The $7 billion livestock sector is a vital part of both the state’s agricultural production and its overall economy, and it is important that the industry remains able to produce at its top level. This is why the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced a new program to help Minnesota’s livestock farmers fund their operations in the long-term.
MDA Commissioner Dave Fredrickson has announced that $1 million in grant funding is being made available to livestock producers in the state for on-farm improvements – improvements that will encourage long-term development in the livestock sector The Livestock Investment Grant Program was first funded by the Minnesota legislature in 2008. Since then, 89 grant recipients have invested an estimated $31 million in improvements to their operations. Farmers can use the funds to purchase, build and improve buildings and facilities for livestock production, as well as purchase fencing and pay for feed and waste management equipment.
The improvements and modernizations available to livestock farmers with this funding will also help expedite the process of transitioning the farm to their sons or daughters, a process that could encourage more young Minnesotans to stay with their family farm and continue their families’ legacies of producing vital agricultural output for the state.
According to the most recent (2007) U.S. Census of Agriculture, the percentage of principal farm operators with an average age of less than 35 years has been declining since 1982 and declined about 20% in every subsequent census since then.
The average age of all US farm operators in the 2007 Census was 57.1 years and has increased in each census since 1978. Minnesota’s average farmer is 53.
The MDA’s livestock investment grant program has included priority scoring for young and beginning farmers and those involved in transitioning to the next generation since the first program in 2008.
Qualifying producers would be reimbursed ten percent of the first $500,000 of investment, with a minimum investment of $4,000. Producers who suffered a loss due to a natural disaster or unintended consequence may also apply. The grant will not pay for livestock or land purchases or for the cost of debt refinancing. Minnesota livestock producers who applied for but did not receive a grant in past years will need to reapply to be considered for the 2012 program.
More information on the grant program, as well as application materials, can be found at the MDA website.