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USDA’s Ducheneaux visits Alberta farms

USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux and other government officials, made a field visit at the farm of Joe Stroman located south of Alberta. During the visit, Stroman and two neighboring farmers, Luke Jost and Greg Fynboh, talked about the challenges they are facing with the weather and storm damage.

Stroman stated that they get very close to starting on planting and then it rains again setting them back. On this day he said that one more dry day was needed however rain was in the forecast for that evening. His neighbors, Jost and Fynboh, agreed that just four or five straight days of dry weather could help them get the planting started.

Stroman farms 600 acres of land with corn and soybeans as his primary crop. This year he is also planning to plant black beans which are one of the latest crops that can be planted. He said that he may have to consider switching more fields to edible beans if it gets into June before he can get in the field.

Ducheneaux asked about storm damage and how it hit. Stroman said he was driving home when he saw the wall cloud heading toward him. He said that water in the fields actually raised up and he saw tires fly off of silage piles. He drove into a ditch for cover and eventually headed home. There he saw that one grain bin had collapsed and two more were damaged along with  the loading system. 

The group gathered for the field day gave input as to the amount of damage in the county stating that 95 percent of the households saw some type of damage. The storm was not limited to Stevens County but affected 49 counties in the state from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Alexandria Minnesota. 

Ducheneaux stated that the USDA is working on ways to help farmers such as looking at emergency conservation programs. On May 16 they announced that commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disaster events in 2020 and 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments through the Farm Service Agency’s new Emergency Relief Program (ERP).

FSA will also be designing a physical loss plan that opens up a loan program for disaster assistance. The advice given to farmers right now is to fully document their losses in order to get the full scope of the need. More information about the programs should be coming soon.

“Years ago we were a lot more diversified,” Stroman stated. “Maybe we need to get back to that and spread out the risk.”