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USA - Help available for some farmers feeling effects of last season’s wet weather

Some farmers say last spring, summer, and fall were challenging — and the federal government agrees.

Mike Kiechle is a dairy farmer in the town of Philadelphia.

He’s still feeling the effects of a wetter crop season in 2019.

“I’m buying soybeans and more cornmeal to make the feed more palatable,” he said, “as well as more protein and energy in it.”

Kiechle says these are things he has to buy every year — just not at this quantity.

“It’s a couple of thousand dollars a month here,” he said. “My purchase feed cost is higher.”

And that’s the way it’s going to stay until at least May.

Last year’s wet weather changed the way Kiechle’s field corn grew. The feed for cows that came from it was lacking in protein.

“Crops need heat and sunshine, and the proper moisture to make energy and protein,” Kiechle said. “Cool, wet weather makes fiber.”

Kiechle isn’t the only farmer feeling the effects.

On Thursday, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik announced a USDA Primary Agricultural Disaster designation for counties in her district, including Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence.

Jefferson County agricultural coordinator Jay Matteson says the declaration will help some farmers get assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“It opens the door for financial programs, emergency loans in particular,” Matteson said.

For farmers to be considered for an emergency loan from the FSA, there are conditions they have to meet.

“Farmers have to be able to prove a minimum of a 30 percent loss in their agricultural production for the crop year,” said Ron Robbins, a former state director for FSA.

Kiechle says he won’t qualify for the loan. He says it will help those who do.

“They can actually feed their cows properly to make the most milk,” he said

Matteson says the next step for farmers is to contact their local USDA FSA for details on the emergency loans.

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