Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Jamie Clover Adams Wednesday (July 25) applauded the quick action by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack in designating four counties in Southwest Michigan – Branch, Cass, Hillsdale and St. Joseph – as primary natural disaster areas due to the extreme drought conditions facing farmers in those counties. Additionally, under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, six counties were named as contiguous natural disaster areas – Berrien, Calhoun, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, and Van Buren.
“Michigan’s agricultural community appreciates the rapid response by USDA in issuing a disaster declaration under their new expedited process. Our farmers and producers are facing unprecedented extreme weather conditions this year including frost/freeze that devastated many fruit crops to the drought conditions wreaking havoc on our corn and soybeans producers,” said Clover Adams. “This disaster designation is essential to keep our farmers in business and ensuring they have ready access to the resources they need to keep feeding Michiganders and the world.”
The designation means that qualified farm operators in the counties identified by USDA as natural disaster areas are eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met.