U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today met with West Michigan growers during a visit to a blueberry farm in Bangor and an apple orchard in Sparta. Senator Stabenow discussed disaster relief for West Michigan growers impacted by frost, and her bipartisan Farm Bill that will support Michigan farmers and help grow Michigan agriculture-our state's second-largest economic sector, supporting almost one out of every four jobs. Michigan is second in the nation in crop diversity, growing a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than any other state but California.
Senator Stabenow said, "When we grow things here and make things here, we create jobs here in Michigan. Agriculture supports nearly one in four Michigan jobs and 16 million jobs nationwide and passing this bill was critical for our economy. This Farm Bill represents the greatest reform in agriculture in decades. Bipartisan compromise is all-too-rare in Washington, so it is heartening to earn support from both sides on a major bill that cuts spending and helps create jobs."
Hope Hills, Owner of Hope Hills Blueberry Farm in Bangor said, "It was terrific to host Senator Stabenow at my blueberry farm. Her farm bill goes a long way to support not only blueberry growers but other fruit and vegetable growers around the state."
Senator Stabenow's bipartisan Farm Bill also makes sure disaster assistance is available this year for fruit growers impacted by weather who did not have adequate access to crop insurance, and strengthens crop insurance to better protect Michigan farmers from disasters in future years. In addition, Senator Stabenow led the effort to secure an emergency designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will make low-interest loans available to fruit growers impacted by weather.
Senator Stabenow continued, "No farming family should be wiped out because of a few days of bad weather. While nothing can replace the crops that were lost, the recent emergency declaration and short-term assistance in the Farm Bill 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, and the new bipartisan Farm Bill I authored will keep Michigan growers better protected from disasters like this in future years."
Jim May, Owner of May Farms in Sparta said, "Senator Stabenow always listens to what is going on and is always been there for us in the fruit industry when things are tough. She is a strong supporter of Michigan agriculture, and her farm bill will be a major help to farmers like me."
The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, also known as the Farm Bill, recently passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support 64-35. National news outlets have called the bill one of the greatest reforms to farm programs in decades. The bill streamlines programs to cut $23 billion in spending while strengthening initiatives that help Michigan farmers and agriculture businesses create jobs. Despite all the talk about reducing deficits this year, the Farm Bill is the only bipartisan bill to cut spending.