Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Disaster Relief for Fruit Growers

Monday, July 21, 2014

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced that many Michigan fruit growers whose farms were devastated by extreme weather conditions in 2012 will now be able to apply for disaster relief from the USDA. The new provisions in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), authored by Chairwoman Stabenow as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, will extend relief to growers who suffered from disasters but did not have access to crop insurance.

Chairwoman Stabenow led the effort to create new risk management tools and level the playing field for fruit and vegetable growers in the 2014 Farm Bill by including the new disaster assistance provisions in NAP, as well as creating new crop insurance options for fruits and vegetables for the first time ever.

"Family farms and businesses shouldn't have to go under because of a few days of bad weather," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "That's why it was so crucial when writing the 2014 Farm Bill to make sure that growers of all crops have access to relief to keep their farms running.

"Frosts and freezes in 2012 destroyed crops like cherries and apples across Michigan, leaving so many fruit growers who did not have access to crop insurance struggling to keep family farms from going under. I'm proud that these hard working farmers will finally be able to access much-needed disaster relief to help keep their businesses operating, so they can continue growing Michigan's economy."

Chairwoman Stabenow led the effort to write and pass the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law by the president in Michigan in February. The bill created new opportunities for Michigan's fruit and vegetable growers to manage risk and protect their businesses against circumstances beyond their control, like the devastating weather conditions that wiped out crops across Michigan in 2012.

"There's no question Michigan cherry growers have seen their share of losses over the last couple of years, with many losing over 90 percent of their crop," said Phil Korson, Executive Director of the Michigan Cherry Marketing Institute. "Thanks to Chairwoman Stabenow's tenacious leadership, the 2014 Farm Bill provides cherry growers with much-needed assistance to help families and farming communities cope with the devastating losses of 2012 - and better crop insurance options that will help protect our growers in future years."

"The Michigan Apple Industry is so thankful for the important work Chairwoman Stabenow has done in building the 2014 Farm Bill in a way that supports Michigan's economy and agriculture," said Diane Smith, Executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee. "Many apple growers were devastated by weather in the 2012 crop year and had no access to crop insurance to manage risk, like other traditional crops do. Sen. Stabenow's leadership will now help growers recover from the losses suffered in 2012, and continue growing their businesses and Michigan's agriculture economy."

"Senator Stabenow has been tireless in her support of Michigan's fruit and vegetable growers, and her work in the 2014 Farm Bill underscores that commitment," said Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. "Fruit and vegetable growers affected by frosts and freezes had nowhere to turn when weather disaster struck in 2012. But Stabenow led the effort to make sure they weren't left in the cold, and now our growers will have access to assistance that will help to save their businesses from closing, and help to strengthen Michigan's economy."

Eligible producers in 82 Michigan counties who experienced losses in 2012 due to frost or freeze, and who did not have access to crop insurance, will be able to apply for assistance beginning tomorrow July 22 through their local Farm Service Agency office. The application period will end September 22, 2014. A list of FSA field offices can be accessed on USDA's website here.

For more information about the enrollment process and other details about the NAP program, please visit USDA's website here. For more information about the 2014 Farm Bill's disaster assistance and risk management programs, please visit here.