Lawmakers approved US$15 million for the Agricultural Disaster Loan Origination Program
By Diego Flammini
Michigan lawmakers are providing additional support for farmers affected by a wet spring that caused, in some cases, no crops to be planted.
House Bill No. 4234, which set out to move US$15 million from the state’s General Fund into the Agricultural Disaster Loan Origination Program, passed yesterday by votes of 99 to 6 and 34 to 1 in the House and Senate, respectively.
The program provides loans with a 1 percent interest rate with the State paying the loan origination fees. Farmers and agribusinesses must meet certain requirements to be eligible to receive financial support.
Farmers in Michigan have only planted 84 percent of their corn and 53 percent of their soybeans, the USDA’s latest Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin said on June 18. Last year at this time, corn planting in the state approached 95 percent and farmers had planed 85 percent of the state’s soybean acres.
Given how wet the spring has been and the potential for revenue losses, farmers need this support, said Sen. Dan Lauwers.
“This low-interest loan program will give farmers affected by the wet spring an important option for bridging the loss of revenue they will experience this year,” he said, The Detroit News reported. “Not planting a crop is like running a store or factory with no product — you have all the expenses with nothing to sell.”
Growers are appreciative of the Legislature’s decision.
This additional support will help farmers plan for the 2020 growing season, said Matt Frostic, president of the Michigan Corn Growers Association.
“This assistance will help farmers weather the storm and make it through to next year’s planting season,” he said in a statement. “We thank Michigan’s legislators for looking out for Michigan farmers during these tough times and look forward to Governor Whitmer signing the bill.”
Michigan enacted the disaster loan program in 2012 to help the fruit tree sector after an early spring followed by freezing temperatures affected the state’s cherry industry.