Farmers in Indiana, southwest Michigan eligible for federal assistance
All farmers in Michiana are now eligible to receive federal assistance after the USDA made a secretarial natural disaster designation for most Indiana counties as well as Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties in Michigan.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb sent a letter to the USDA in July requesting assistance because of excessive rain and flooding experienced during the planting season.
“I am grateful that Secretary Perdue and his team recognized the hardships Hoosier farmers experienced this planting season,” Gov. Holcomb said. “As a result of this designation, farmers in all 92 counties are now eligible for assistance, and I encourage those impacted to work with their local Farm Service Agency office.”
While the USDA only designated 74 counties as primary natural disaster areas, the remaining 18 counties border one or more of the disaster areas. Because they are considered contiguous disaster counties, farmers in those areas are eligible for the same assistance, according to the governor.
In Michigan, Rep. Fred Upton spearheaded a letter from 13 members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation to the USDA urging support for Governor Gretchen Whitmer's USDA secretarial disaster designation request for the state of Michigan.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for our farmers and producers in Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph counties. In July, when I went on my farm tour throughout southwest Michigan, farmers made it clear that they were suffering. Within the last year, they have experienced record rainfall, extreme temperatures, and other damaging weather conditions. This disaster designation is a good start, but I will continue my conversations with the USDA and encourage them to approve our disaster designation request for the rest of the counties in our district and the entire state of Michigan," Upton said in a press release.
Under a secretarial natural disaster designation, farmers are eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, which includes low interest emergency loans.
In order to qualify, farm operators must show at least a 30 percent loss in crop production or a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate or chattel property.
In addition to emergency loans, farmers with existing FSA loans, who are unable to make their payments, may be eligible to have certain payments deferred.