In Mid-May, severe weather in parts of northwestern, western and west-central Minnesota prompted two visits from the governor and staff to view the severe damage done to farms, homes and rural communities.
Gov. Tim Walz made two trips to the western side of the state. On May 18, Walz and agriculture commissioner Thom Petersen traveled to western Minnesota and met with Benson business owners, municipal leaders and local farmers to review the damage. The evening of May 12, winds downed power lines and damaged buildings and farm equipment in a wide area, from eastern South Dakota into Meeker County in central Minnesota. Funnel clouds, tornadoes, straight-line winds and hail were reported in various areas.
In Benson, the windstorm brought widespread damage, tearing shingles from roofs and toppling trees throughout the community. The Benson Fire Department contained a fire that erupted when a gas line apparently broke at the Case IH facility along U.S. Highway 12.
The group also stopped at Connolly Farms near Benson.
Petersen noted through a Facebook post that it was tough to see all the farm damage.
“We’ll keep working to see how the administration can be of assistance,” he wrote.
On May 14, Walz and others traveled to northwest Minnesota to meet with local residents on the farm of John, Jim, David, Brian and Curtis Nelson near Oslo. Jim Nelson said that this time last year, they were completely done with planting. The visit included an update with the Red River Watershed Management Board on the farm. The group discussed flood hazard mitigation funding, bonding and drainage, among other topics.
Following that trip, Walz issued Executive Order 22-11, authorizing temporary regulatory relief for motor carriers and drivers supporting spring crop planting. He also authorized the Minnesota National Guard in late April to provide support for emergency flood operations in that corner of the state.
A few weeks behind
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service planting progress report, storms and heavy rainfall limited farmers to 2.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 15.
Corn planting was only 35% complete, compared to 94% last year and the five-year average of 72%.
Soybean planting was 11% complete, compared to 85% last year and the five-year average of 47%.
Planting progress for spring wheat was at 5%, oats at 44%, barley at 16%, dry edible beans at 1%, potatoes at 36% and sugarbeets at 8%.
Here are online links to other stories related to the storms:
- The Millennial Farmer, bit.ly/youtubemillennialfarmer
- Larson Farms, Correll, bit.ly/larsonfarms
- The Stevens farm, Montevideo, bit.ly/stevensfarm
Sadly, a young woman was critically injured May 12 on her family dairy farm from flying debris; and at another location, a volunteer firefighter died when a grain bin collapsed on him. Learn more about Katie Reitsma on a CaringBridge page created for her at bit.ly/katiereitsma.
Learn about volunteer firefighter Ryan Erickson’s fatal accident at cbsloc.al/3MG2oIh.