Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) today encouraged Northern Michigan farmers whose crops were affected by the spring freezes to utilize the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) disaster relief assistance. First District farmers can visit www.benishek.house.gov/fruitdamage for more information.
"I am pleased Secretary Vilsack and the USDA have recognized the critical need to help the many Northern Michigan farmers who were impacted by this weather related disaster. I am hopeful that with the help of these low-interest federal loans, our farmers will be able to persevere through this challenging growing season and keep their businesses open," said Dr. Benishek, a doctor from Iron River.
Following hard late frosts across much of Northern Michigan that significantly damaged fruit crops, Dr. Benishek, along with other members of the Michigan Congressional delegation, sent a letter to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting the USDA grant low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency to help farmers. Recently, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that allocates up to $300 million in low-interest loans for affected framers.
To apply for assistance, farmers are encouraged to contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency office. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration (February 2013) to apply for emergency loan assistance. If farmers are having difficulty obtaining financial assistance from this weather related disaster, they may also contact Dr. Benishek's Gaylord office at 989-448-8811.
"I encourage all farmers who were impacted by the freeze to contact their local Farm Service Agency office or contact my office for any questions or assistance they need," added Dr. Benishek.
Of the 72 counties requesting disaster designation, 26 counties in Michigan's First District are eligible to receive aid -- Alcona, Alger, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Bay, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Crawford, Delta, Dickinson, Emmet, Gladwin, Iosco, Iron, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle and Schoolcraft.
The funding for this relief was previously allocated and does not represent any new federal spending.