Governor Granholm Requests Federal Disaster Assistance for Michigan Farmers

Contact: Jennifer Holton 517-241-2485
Agency: Agriculture and Rural Development

June 23, 2008

Frost/freeze conditions damaged state crops

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today officially requested federal disaster assistance from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ed Schafer for farmers in 55 Michigan counties who are facing fruit, vegetable, and other frost-sensitive crop losses because of several severe frosts and freezes this spring.  The requests were based upon 30 percent or more in loss estimates calculated locally in each county.

"Michigan agriculture is a multi-billion dollar, job-creating industry that is critical to Michigan's economy," said Granholm.  "This disaster declaration is a vital first step to ensuring that Michigan farmers have the additional resources they need to overcome these natural disasters."

From March 1 to May 31, 2008, 55 counties experienced frost/freeze conditions that particularly affected fruit and vegetable production such as apples and cherries.  The impacted counties are in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

The recent severe weather that produced damaging floods and high winds in several areas of the Lower Peninsula has also impacted crops, particularly vegetable production.  A separate disaster request will be made after additional data is gathered detailing the full extent of the damage.

Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) Director Don Koivisto will be touring devastated areas of Allegan and Ottawa counties today to meet with farmers and see the damage.

Federal, state, and local agencies are working together to quickly and effectively assess crop losses and expedite the process to obtain a federal agricultural disaster declaration.  The Michigan Department of Agriculture is working with the USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) to compile crop damage estimates due to Michigan's current extreme weather conditions.  USDA-FSA is the agency responsible for compiling the official crop loss statistics and administering the federal emergency farm loan programs.

In order for Michigan to receive federal disaster status, the original crop loss estimates must be verified from harvest yield data.  If losses of 30 percent or more are confirmed, and the disaster request is granted, eligible state producers will have access to USDA-FSA's low-interest emergency loan program for up to 100 percent of their weather-related agriculture production losses.

For more information on the federal emergency farm loan programs, please visit the USDA-FSA Web site at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

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