GreenStone Farm Credit Services and Huntington Bank are working together to provide low-cost disaster relief loans to Michigan fruit producers and processors. The uncommon partnership between the farm credit association and traditional lender was formed to assist producers and processors affected by the extraordinary devastation experienced during the spring growing season.
"The damage that fruit producers and processors have witnessed in 2012 is unprecedented and it is critical that we join together as a community to provide them with the tools they need to persevere during this disastrous time," says GreenStone president and CEO, Dave Armstrong. "GreenStone and Huntington share a strong commitment to Michigan and its fruit producers, who each year grow and package fruit that families across America make a regular part of their diet."
"Agriculture and its related industries are critical to the economic health of Michigan," says Jim Dunlap, president of Huntington's Michigan Region. "Huntington is committed to helping Michigan and its businesses grow. We look forward to partnering with GreenStone to offer relief to fruit producers. It is the right thing to do."
The GreenStone Huntington partnership comes in the wake of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the state legislature creating the Agricultural Disaster Loan Origination Program Act of 2012 for fruit growers and processors whose operations were impacted by harsh weather earlier this year. The governor and state legislature worked closely with the state's financial institutions, including GreenStone and Huntington, to develop the program, which will provide loans with a fixed interest rate as low as 1% to producers and processors for up to five years.
Gov. Snyder's signing of the bill is the first step in getting Michigan fruit producers and processors the assistance they need. Once the Michigan Legislature appropriates funds for the program, affected producers and processors will be able to take advantage of these low-interest loans.
"I commend Gov. Snyder, the Michigan Legislature, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Farm Bureau for acting quickly to address this disaster," adds Armstrong.
"Huntington has been an active partner with Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in lending programs," says Dunlap. "We look forward to working with them again to help a critical part of our economy."
Subsequent to the appropriation approval, which is estimated to take place later this summer, producers and processors interested in taking advantage of this program who are currently GreenStone customers should contact their local branch office or financial services officer, while current Huntington customers should contact their local branch or Huntington banker. Those interested who are not GreenStone or Huntington customers should call 800-444-3276.
The Michigan State University Product Center estimates near total crop losses for Michigan's apple, juice grape, peach, and sweet and tart cherry producers. Combined with the losses experienced by blueberry and asparagus producers in 2012, total losses are estimated to exceed $200 million for the state's agriculture industry.