2014-01-30 / Community

USDA designated 38 counties disaster areas, some in U.P.

Schoolcraft and Luce counties included

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 38 counties in Michigan as primary natural disaster areas in three different designations due to multiple disasters.

“Our hearts go out to those Michigan farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Michigan producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 27 counties in Michigan as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain with cooler than normal temperatures that began April 1, 2013, and continues.

Those counties are:

Alcona, Chippewa, Gratiot, Mackinac, Arenac, Clare, Houghton Midland, Baraga, Crawford, Huron, Monroe, Bay, Emmet, Iosco, Muskegon, Charlevoix, Gladwin, Luce, Newaygo, Cheboygan, Gogebic, Ogemaw, Ontonagon, Oscoda Presque Isle and Roscommon.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Michigan also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Alger, Isabella, Marquette, Oceana, Alpena, Kalkaska, Mason, Osceola, Antrim, Kent, Mecosta, Otsego, Clinton, Keweenaw, Missaukee Ottawa, Ionia, Lake Montcalm, Saginaw, Iron, Lenawee, Montmorency, Sanilac, Schoolcraft, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Washtenaw and Wayne.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Jan. 22, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

The Obama Administration remains committed to helping the thousands of farm families and businesses struggling with natural disasters. Actions taken by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2012 to provide assistance to producers impacted by the drought included:

•Extended emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres, freeing up a record 2.8 million acres and as much as $200 million in forage and feed for ranchers during a challenging time.

•Purchased $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken, and catfish for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks, to help relieve pressure on American livestock producers and bring the nation’s meat supply in line with demand.

•Reduced the emergency loan rate, from 3.75 percent to 2.875 percent, as well as making emergency loans available earlier in the season.

Additional information is also available online at http://disaster. fsa.usda.gov.

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