Sparks: Relief loans available for avian flu-affected farmers

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Disaster relief loans are being made available to Minnesota poultry farmers who have suffered losses due to the highly pathogenic avian influenza. The 0 percent interest loans are being offered through the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority (RFA) who recently received $10 million from the state legislature to help out during this time of crisis. Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Jobs and Rural Development Committee helped work on several bills that address the avian influenza crisis.

“In just a few short months this deadly influenza virus has killed close to 9.5 million birds affecting a quarter of all Minnesota counties. Farmers are either afraid the virus will spread to their farms, or they’re suffering real damages not only to the death of their flock but in dealing with the aftermath. These loans are a way of helping out these farmers so they can continue to pay their bills and rebuild their poultry flocks,” said Sparks in a press release.



The RFA is accepting loan applications immediately. The current loan interest rate is zero percent for up to a period of 10 years.The RFA participation is limited to 45 percent of the principal amount up to a maximum of $200,000. The loan money can be used to replace commercial poultry flocks or game (backyard) flocks, make building improvements, and cover the loss of revenue.

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The state has also invested $8.5 million into the Willmar Poultry Lab, which provides disease surveillance for the poultry industry and performs all of the testing required for Minnesota’s National Poultry Improvement Plan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. An additional $18 million in bonding has been invested in the University of Minnesota to help replace two obsolete veterinary isolation laboratories with a new biocontainment facility in St. Paul. This new facility will allow Minnesota to become a leader in infectious diseases research and will protect the health of Minnesotans and livestock.

If you have questions regarding these or other matters, please contact Sen. Sparks’ office at 651-296-9248.