The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has designated four counties in Southwest Michigan as primary natural disaster areas due to the extreme drought conditions facing farmers in those counties. Additionally, under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, six counties were named as contiguous natural disaster areas – Berrien, Calhoun, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, and Van Buren.
"Michigan's agricultural community appreciates the rapid response by USDA in issuing a disaster declaration under their new expedited process. Our farmers and producers are facing unprecedented extreme weather conditions this year including frost/freeze that devastated many fruit crops to the drought conditions wreaking havoc on our corn and soybeans producers," says Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Jamie Clover Adams. "This disaster designation is essential to keep our farmers in business and ensuring they have ready access to the resources they need to keep feeding Michiganders and the world."
Qualified farmers in the natural disaster areas are eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
For Michigan to receive federal disaster status, the original crop loss estimates must be verified from harvest yield data. If losses of 30% 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% of their weather-related agriculture production losses. USDA-FSA is the agency responsible for compiling the official crop loss statistics and administering the federal emergency farm loan programs.
For more information on the federal emergency farm loan programs, please visit the USDA-FSA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov.