Millions of sugar beets left behind after fall beet harvestAlyssa Kelly

MINNEAPOLIS — Farmers in northwest Minnesota need emergency assistance to deal with difficult if not impossible harvest conditions, Gov. Tim Walz wrote in a letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The first-term governor wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday, Nov. 7, requesting emergency assistance for farmers unable to harvest their crops this fall due to harsh weather conditions. In particular, Walz asked for a disaster designation to be issued for Becker, Clay, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau and Wilkin counties.

"Our producers are hardworking, but due to extreme weather conditions, many were unable to harvest their crop this fall," Walz wrote. "Northwest Minnesota needs access to federal aid to recover and endure the effects these losses will have in the coming years."

Flooding conditions during the spring along with record rain and snow accumulation in October made fields unworkable and impassible. Some crops molded in the fields, while others, like sugar beets and potatoes became lodged in frozen soil.

The financial impacts for farmers already facing a difficult year in terms of boundaries to trade and wavering commodity prices are not yet known. But early indicators suggest that unharvested or damaged crops could drag down farmers' finances in that part of the state and beyond. And the hit is likely to ripple through rural communities.

Bill Northey, USDA undersecretary of farm production and conservation, was set to meet with the governor on Thursday and address farm and food industry leaders at the summit in Minneapolis Thursday afternoon.

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