June 20, 2019
The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary of USDA
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Perdue,
As Michigan Legislators, we urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide flexibility and equitable treatment for Michigan farmers who have had to delay planting their crops. Consistent rain and wet weather this spring have created challenging and in some cases impossible planting conditions for farmers across Michigan. We are the country’s second most diverse state growing over 300 commodities that creates an economic impact of $104.7 billion to our state’s economy. We ask for speed and transparency in this process making sure this flexibility happens quickly enough to have the intended impact on our farm families.
We have seen the wettest 12-month period on record in the continental United States. Like other parts of the Midwest, large portions of Michigan have seen precipitation measurements at double the normal rates. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Great Lakes Region, grain planting in Michigan has approached the slowest pace on record due to relentless rain. Even the crops that have been successfully planted may see stunted growth or may require replanting. To add to the confluence of unfortunate events, feed and forage are harder to come by.
We encourage you to help ensure this planting season is not a total loss by providing increased flexibility under Federal Crop Insurance rules for utilizing forage and cover crops, including corn silage, on prevented plant acres. Our farmers are a pillar of our economy and state cultural heritage and this situation is exactly why these programs exist. We need your help to ensure they qualify. Time is of the essence in enacting these changes because we have reached the point in the season when seed dealers send their unused seed back to corporate storage. Waiting much longer will remove the option for farmers to plant at all because the seed will no longer be available.
Additionally, Congress recently passed, and the President signed, a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill to help Americans across the country, including farmers hit by catastrophic storms. As the USDA carries out the relief authorized to address flooding in this act, we encourage you to avoid inequities for Americans that have suffered from extreme weather by ensuring that any definition of flooding covers all instances of excessive moisture. Whether the excessive moisture and prevented planting is directly caused by a river leaving its banks, more localized stream flooding, or ponding of rainfall and snowmelt, the challenges faced by the farmers are the same and each of them should be eligible for aid.
As the chair of Michigan’s House Agriculture Committee and members of the Michigan 100th legislature, thank you for your prompt consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.
Julie Alexander, District 64 Greg VanWoerkom, District 91
Chair, House Agriculture Cmt. Chair, House Agriculture Appropriations Cmt.
Luke Meerman, District 88 Ann Bollin, District 42
Vice-Chair, House Agriculture Cmt. Vice-Chair, House Agriculture Appropriations Cmt.
Brian Elder, District 96 Sheryl Kennedy, District 48
Minority Vice-Chair, House Agriculture Cmt. Minority Vice-Chair, House Agriculture Appropriations Cmt.
Lee Chatfield, District 107 Jason Wentworth, District 97
Speaker of the House Speaker Pro-Tempore
Triston Cole, District 105 Christine Greig, District 37
Majority Floor Leader House Minority Leader
Julie Calley, District 87 Graham Filler, District 93
Julie Brixie, District 69 Gary Howell, District 82
Bradley Slagh, District 90 Alex Garza, District 12
Mary Whiteford, District 80 Hank Vaupel, District 47
Michele Hoitenga, District 102 John Reilly, District 46
Donna Lasinski, District 52 Eric Leutheuser, District 58
John Chirkun, District 22 Scott VanSingel, District 100
Ben Frederick, District 85 Daire Rendon, District 103
Kevin Hertel, District 18 Kevin Coleman, District 16
Rebekah Warren, District 55 Sarah Anthony, District 68
Joseph Bellino, Jr., District 17 Mark Huizenga, District 74
Beau LaFave, District 108 Pauline Wendzel, District 79
Jon Hoadley, District 60 Rachel Hood, District 76
Darrin Camilleri, District 23 Angela Witwer, District 71
Bronna Kahle, District 57 Joe Tate, District 2
Roger Hauck, District 99 Brad Paquette, District 78
Jewell Jones, District 11 Andrea Schroeder, District 43
Aaron Miller, District 59 Tommy Brann, District 77
Jeff Yaroch, District 33 Kara Hope, District 67
Vanessa Guerra, District 95 Lynn Afendoulis, District 73
Annette Glenn, District 98 Jim Lilly, District 89
Douglas Wozniak, District 36 Gary Eisen, District 81
Diana Farrington, District 30 Phil Green, District 84
Beth Griffin, District 66 Shane Hernandez, District 83
Sarah Lightner, District 65 Jason Sheppard, District 56
Pamela Hornberger, District 32 John Cherry, District 49
Terry Sabo, District 92
Cc: The Honorable Bill Northey, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation
William F. Crozer, Special Assistant to the President/Deputy Director