U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today made the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that further disaster designations have been issued for all 83 Michigan counties due to drought.
"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. It's critical that we're able to continue securing the disaster assistance farmers, processors and other Michigan businesses need to survive this disaster."
Emergency low-interest loans were already available to eligible farmers in virtually all Michigan counties because of an earlier disaster declaration that Sen. Stabenow secured due to the early spring freezes. Today's additional designation extends the disaster designation due to drought to all Michigan counties and thus extends the period of time that farmers can apply for assistance. Also, federal disaster assistance for businesses impacted by these agricultural disasters is provided through the Small Business Administration. Michigan farmers should contact their local Farm Service Agency for more information on how to apply for disaster assistance.
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. It also includes relief for livestock producers, expands crop insurance for specialty crops, strengthens conservation efforts to help mitigate future disasters, and provides increased access to crop insurance for beginning farmers and ranchers.
National media outlets have called Stabenow's Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, also known as the Farm Bill, the most significant reform to agriculture programs in decades. The bill ends payments to farmers for crops they don't grow and streamlines programs to cut $23 billion in spending while strengthening initiatives that help Michigan farmers and agriculture businesses create jobs.