The Douglas County Board is seeking a change in its drought classification to help farmers struggling with the summer’s spotty precipitation and above average monthly temperatures.
The board adopted a resolution Thursday, Sept. 16, asking the U.S. Drought Monitor to re-evaluate conditions in Douglas County.
Currently, Douglas County is rated at a D2 level indicating a severe drought, while large areas of Northern Minnesota are rated D3, extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“There are weather monitor guys that have been doing it 20, 30 years, and they say we are actually lower (in precipitation) than places in the orange (D3) area,” said Mark Liebaert, Douglas County Board chairman, who presented the resolution to the board with supervisors Scott Luostari and Joe Moen. “Even the rains that were being reported were spotty. Different areas got them, and different areas missed them.”
The dry weather has increased the cost of production, Liebaert said.
Weather stations in Brule and Superior have recorded below normal rainfall over the 2021 growing season. Between May and August, the Brule weather station recorded a cumulative total of 7.39 inches of rain, and the Superior weather station recorded a 7.07 inches total.
According to the National Weather Service, Brule normally receives about 16.62 inches and Superior receives about 15.73 inches of rain during that timeframe.
Liebaert said with the D3 classification, the county has a chance to get federal aid for farmers in the form of low-interest loans or payment relief. He said the lower classifications are unlikely to trigger aid.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture uses the drought monitor to trigger disaster declarations and eligibility for relief programs.
The resolution will be sent to elected leaders on the state and federal level, and the state climatologist for consideration.
In other business:
- The board adopted its tentative redistricting plan. The final plan will come to the board after Superior finishes developing voting wards and aldermanic districts.
- The board appointed Richard Staupe to replace Mark McGillis on the county board. Staupe represents the 11th District.