Gov. Whitmer requests USDA disaster declaration for Michigan farmers

posted on Monday, June 24, 2019 in Current News

by Farm News Media

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wed., requesting a USDA Secretarial Disaster Designation for the State of Michigan and added flexibility under the Federal Crop Insurance Program and the recent disaster legislation passed by Congress. This letter comes as a result of the overwhelming challenges Michigan farmers are facing during one of the wettest weather periods on record.

“Michigan farmers are in a state of crisis right now because of extraordinary weather conditions, from historic rainfall, extreme cold, excessive snow, flash flooding, and tornadoes,” Whitmer said in a statement.

“Michigan has a rich history in agriculture, and on behalf of our farmers, our families, and our economy, we need to take action now. I’m ready and eager to partner with the federal government to make sure Michigan farmers have the support they need during this difficult time,” she wrote.

Michigan is currently amid the third wettest year in state’s history, with 37.9 inches of rain between May 1, 2018, and April 30, 2019. This weather has delayed and prevented farmers from planting their crops as usual, with 64 out of Michigan’s 83 counties requesting disaster designations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this year.

Michigan Farm Bureau President, Carl Bednarksi, a Tuscola County farmer, said Whitmer’s request is greatly appreciated by the organization’s 40,000 farmer members.

“Our farmers are facing an unprecedented, weather-induced crisis,” Bednarski said. “A USDA disaster designation, if approved, would provide some relief to farm families across the state to help keep their businesses viable and able to produce the feed and forage necessary for livestock.”

“We’re very appreciative of the Governor’s quick action on a matter that affects the whole state. Farming is facing an uncertainty that they haven’t seen in years. It’s humbling that the Whitmer administration obviously has a solid grasp on what’s happening and is willing to step up to the plate for our industry.”

The Disaster Declaration Request also included a request of USDA to consider any excessive moisture or ponding as eligible for flood disaster assistance, rather than only covering river or stream flooding. USDA is currently finalizing funding requirements for $3 billion in agricultural disaster assistance due to flooding in 2019, recently approved by Congress.

Altogether, Michigan farmers as of June 9 had just 3.5 days with proper conditions for fieldwork. Because of this, Michigan’s crops are significantly underplanted with corn down from 88 percent to 63 percent and soybeans at only 43 percent.

To view the letter,visit here: