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Gov. Walz and Sen. Smith visit dairy farm hit by blizzard

A dairy farm in Altura is looking at $250,000 in damages from the blizzard last month.

Posted: Mar 9, 2019 7:21 PM
Updated: Mar 10, 2019 11:23 AM

ALTURA, Minn. - February undoubtedly was a challenging month for everyone -- but one group hit hard by the storms were dairy farmers.

The storms caused dozens of buildings to collapse, killed cattle and made roads impossible to drive leaving some farmers with no choice but to dump thousands of pounds of milk.

A dairy farm in Altura was hit hard. They lost about 10 animals that were about to have babies and their calving pens were destroyed.

David Buck produces milk and says the brutal Minnesota winters are only adding to the mountains of stress farmers already endure.

'It's a very stressful situation especially after the last 3-4 years," Buck said. "Dairy farming has been a struggle anyway and then to have this happen, it really hurt."

Senator Tina Smith made one thing clear: she will protect farmers' livelihoods.

"If we lose these dairy farms, the entire community is going to miss all the residual economic activity that happens because of these farms."

Governor Tim Walz acknowledges he cannot control the weather but he does know a way to help them.

"When markets are so low and prices are so low and tariffs are in place, an event like this can be catastrophic, if those prices are up and they are making the living they should be making, they can weather these better so I think that's the real fix," Walz said.

Working hand-in-hand, legislators and farmers are coming together to find solutions since losing just one farm could create a domino effect.

"Losing any farm that can be a two or three million-dollar impact on the local economy and that can just be devastating if two or three happened in one area that has happened with these barn collapses," Lucas Sjostrom, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association said.

The Farm Bill was passed at the end of last year which has improvements to the dairy margin program, giving insurance to low prices and low revenues for dairy farmers, but it will not kick in until this summer.

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