Stabenow, Peters Applaud Relief for Farmers, Urge Further Access to Disaster Aid

Thursday, June 20, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take action, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, and Gary Peters (MI) today praised the announcement of new relief for Michigan farmers who have been unable to plant their crops.


Last week, the Senators wrote a letter to ask the USDA to help Michigan farmers by increasing flexibility with Federal Crop Insurance rules and allowing farmers to plant cover crops and use them for livestock grazing, hay, or silage, which is typically not allowed until after November 1. Today, the USDA announced it would permit farmers to use their unplanted land for these purposes starting September 1 and still maintain eligibility for crop insurance. This date change will allow farmers to get more out of their land before the winter, while also addressing shortages in livestock feed caused by extreme weather.


“I applaud the USDA for acting quickly on our request to provide relief for Michigan farmers affected by record rainfall,” said Senator Stabenow. “It’s just common sense to help farmers get the best use out of their land after they were unable to plant their crops this year. I urge the USDA to continue along this path and ensure all impacted farmers are eligible for disaster assistance.”


“Farmers across Michigan are dealing with some of the wettest weather on record—with many of our counties at or exceeding disaster-levels” said Senator Peters. “I’m pleased the USDA is taking necessary steps to let our farmers try to salvage what they can from the planting season. I urge the USDA to take additional action to treat Michigan farmers no differently than other parts of the country that have been dealing with natural disasters.”


Large swaths of Michigan farmland have seen precipitation measurements at double their normal rates. As a result, many Michigan farmers have been unable to plant their crops for the season while also facing restrictions on harvesting before the November deadline. Even crops that have made it into the ground might see stunted growth or require replanting. 


There are additional steps the USDA can take to provide relief for Michigan agriculture. In the letter, the Senators asked the USDA to ensure Michigan farmers would be eligible for disaster assistance, which Congress recently passed. The Senators also support Governor Gretchen Whitmer's request for the USDA to make a Secretarial Disaster Designation for the State of Michigan in light of the challenges farmers are facing from wet weather.