U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced that further disaster designations have been issued for Michigan counties affected by crop damage and losses due to extreme drought. The designations impact Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Dickinson, Gogebic, Hillsdale, Iron, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Menominee, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties.
Emergency low interest loans were already available to eligible farmers in these counties, and counties throughout the state, because a disaster declaration was issued in virtually all Michigan counties earlier this month due to the early spring freezes. This additional designation extends the period of time that farmers can apply for assistance in these newly designated extreme drought counties. Although moderate and severe drought conditions exist in other Michigan counties, these counties were designated by federal agencies as "extreme" drought. Also, federal disaster assistance for businesses impacted by these agricultural disasters is provided through the Small Business Administration.
"This has been a tough year for Michigan farmers," said Stabenow. "First they were hit by a terrible spring freeze, and are now experiencing the worst drought in more than 50 years. In addition to securing the assistance farmers, processors and other Michigan businesses need to survive this disaster, I am also working hard to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that will provide additional relief and create a stronger system for farmers to manage this kind of financial risk. I urge the House to pass this legislation to provide additional disaster relief and other tools to create new jobs in Michigan's agriculture economy."
The Senate passed Sen. Stabenow's 2012 Farm Bill by a strong bipartisan vote of 64-35. Her Farm Bill contains additional disaster support for farmer impacted by severe weather this year and strengthened crop insurance to protect farmers from disaster in future years. The bill also represents the most significant reform to American agriculture in decades, strengthening initiatives to help Michigan farmers and agriculture businesses create jobs while cutting $23 billion in spending overall by ending unnecessary subsidies and other programs that no longer make sense. The House has yet to bring the Farm Bill to the floor for a vote.
Michigan farmers should contact their local Farm Service Agency for more information on how to apply for disaster assistance.