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Minnehaha Co. Requests Disaster Declaration

July 31, 2012, 10:00 PM by David Brown

Minnehaha Co. Requests Disaster Declaration

The severe and extreme drought that's swept a large portion of the Midwest is hitting KELOLAND especially hard. Now, Minnehaha County is asking for some outside help.  The County Commission heard a resolution Tuesday morning, asking the county to request a federal disaster declaration.

Before Tuesday's meeting with the Minnehaha County Commission, Larry Olsen of the County Farm Service Agency met with different members of the emergency board. The group concluded the drought situation in Minnehaha County is getting worse with no end in sight.

"We felt that alfalfa, corn, grass for hay in pastures, along with soybeans were the most significantly effected crop commodities in Minnehaha County," Olsen said.

The numbers the emergency board came up with back that up. The county's expected to lose 65 percent of its grass and pasture, 50 percent of its alfalfa, 41 percent of its corn and 25 percent of its soybeans. The total production loss equals $116 million.

"Likely, that number will go up," Olsen said. "That's what we've projected based on last week when we looked at all the conditions."

While there was some debate over the exact criteria necessary to declare the county a federal disaster area, the facts and figures were too compelling.

"$100 million or more cut in ag income is certainly going to reverberate within the local economy," Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth said.

After seeing those numbers, the debate was over. The five commissioners unanimously passed the resolution. Now, it's up to the county to request governor Dennis Daugaard ask for federal assistance.

"This is a disaster and whatever we can do, we should do," Barth said.

Olsen said there's still a chance a majority of the soybean crop in the county can be saved. But he says there needs to be a significant August rain in order for that to happen.

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