Nov 12, 2019
20% of North Dakota’s potato crop unharvested, disaster relief approved

It has been a rough fall for farmers in the Red River Valley, and estimates for the potato crop reflect that.

Because of flooding and early freezes, 14,000 of the 73,000 potato acres planted in North Dakota have gone unharvested, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Production is forecast at 20.9 million cwt, which would be a 12% drop from 2018. 

On the flip side, state record-high yield projections of 355 cwt per acre will help ease the burden for North Dakota growers.

Across the river in Minnesota, things aren’t quite as bad. Production for the state is forecast at 18 million cwt, which would be a 4% drop from last year. There were 44,000 acres harvested, which is up slightly from 2018. Yields are down to 410 cwt per acre from 430.

RELATED: Latest updates from 2019 harvest

Disaster relief coming

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has approved North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s request for disaster declarations for 47 counties.

Northern Plains Potato Growers Association President Donavon Johnson anticipates that Minnesota Governor Walz’s request for disaster declarations for 12 counties in Minnesota will be approved by Perdue soon. Walz submitted Minnesota’s request Nov. 7 for the counties of Polk, Clay, Norman, Marshall, Pennington, Lake of the Woods, Kittson, Roseau, Red Lake, Wilkin, Becker, and Mahnomen.

The designations make farmers in the declared counties and those adjacent eligible to receive federal loans under the Farm Services Agency’s Emergency Farm Loan Program and the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Loan Program for farm-related business, according to a news release from Burgum’s office. Producers are also eligible to apply for relief via the federal Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP+).

NPPGA has been working with state and federal government officials and agencies to identify as much assistance as possible for growers due to the record-setting amount of rain and snow that fell in the region in September and October during the potato harvest season.

Through a series of recent meetings and conversations, Johnson has communicated the catastrophic potato harvest and resulting impact with federal and state officials including North Dakota Governor Burgum, North Dakota Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey and RMA Administrator Martin Barbre.

According to Johnson, much of the discussion has centered around understanding crop insurance loss filings, the WHIP+ federal disaster program (see fact sheet here) and including potatoes in the trade mitigation discussion (MFP payments) in the future. Should funding be available, the WHIP+ program can provide disaster payments to growers who purchased crop insurance and those who didn’t (conditions apply) and growers should be filing claims with their FSA office now. — Ted Kreis, NPPGA Marketing and Communications Director

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