State Rep. Sarah Lightner today applauded the Michigan House upon approval of a plan to help farmers whose crops have been delayed or damaged by this spring’s record-setting rain.
“While Michigan’s fertile land continues to drown in rainfall, many farmers are feeling pinched into financial trouble due to not getting crops planted and anticipated low yields,” said Lightner, of Springport. “No farmer could have predicted this long stretch of bad weather. This loan program is vital when it comes to stabilizing Michigan’s agricultural industry – our state’s second-largest economic sector. Hundreds of thousands of families across the state depend on the success of our farmers, and it’s important we provide them with the support they need and deserve during this difficult time.”
The plan would help private lenders provide low-interest loans to qualified farmers at no financial risk to the state.
Michigan has had very few days suitable for field work this spring. As a result, only about 63 percent of corn seed and 43 percent of soybean seed have been planted, which means yields will be low. Many farmers will be facing financial trouble as this crop season continues.
House Bill 4234 provides $15 million to help private lenders run the loan program and keep interest rates low for farmers. The state does not provide the loans, so there is no financial risk or liability to the state with this program.
Similar low-interest loan programs were approved for Michigan farmers in 2002 and 2012.
Lightner helped lead a coalition of 63 lawmakers in submitting a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture regarding federal support, including increased flexibility under the Federal Crop Insurance rules. Increased flexibility would allow farmers to plant on land normally prohibited by federal crop insurance rules, allowing for more crops to get to market and be raised for feed for a farmer’s livestock.