U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced federal support is now available for Michigan fruit growers impacted by frost and other inclement weather this spring. The support, including low-interest loans, comes with the official federal designation of 72 Michigan counties as primary natural disaster areas after fruit growers suffered devastating losses caused by weather this spring. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the decision official today, following a series of conversations and letters sent by Sen. Stabenow on behalf of Michigan fruit growers.
"No farming family should be wiped out because of a few days of bad weather," said Stabenow. "While nothing can replace the crops that were lost, this emergency declaration will help provide much-needed assistance for our Michigan fruit growers who suffered such a devastating spring this year. This support will offer fruit growers a lifeline in the short-term, while the new bipartisan Farm Bill I authored will keep Michigan growers better protected from disasters like this in future years."
A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, including low-rate emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. Fruit growers should contact their local Farm Service Agency for more information.
In her 2012 Farm Bill, Sen. Stabenow also included an amendment that will make sure disaster assistance is available this year for Michigan fruit growers who did not have adequate access to crop insurance devastated by this year's severe weather. That bill has passed the Senate on a wide bipartisan basis and is now pending the House.