|By KEVIN WALKER
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week formally requested federal aid for Michigan farmers hit hard by frost and freezing temperatures.
“April’s extreme drop in temperature was devastating for our fruit and vegetable farmers in lower Michigan,” Granholm said in a statement released to reporters last week.
“On their behalf, I am requesting federal disaster assistance to free up available resources and help reduce the economic impact of this severe weather.”
Granholm requested aid on behalf of farmers in the following 28 counties: Allegan, Antrim, Barry, Benzie, Berrien, Cass, Charlevoix, Eaton, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Hillsdale, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Leelanau, Macomb, Manistee, Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Otsego, Ottawa, St. Clair, St. Joseph, VanBuren, Washtenaw and Wayne.
In order for aid to be granted, crop losses must be 30 percent or more. The state Farm Service Agency is collecting damage assessment information, which should be available Oct 1.
If aid were granted, eligible producers would have access to low-interest federal emergency loans for up to 100 percent of their weather-related production losses.
Meanwhile, persistent rain across the state has created problems for producers. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Michigan Field Office reported that most fieldwork last week was halted due to persistent rain.
While corn that was planted before the rain was slow to emerge and yellow, soybean planting was stopped altogether by rain and wet soil.
A producer from south-central Michigan told the NASS that rain and cool temperatures have kept farmers out of the field all week. Corn and soybeans planted prior to the rains of May 10 were slow to emerge. Still, early plantings have begun to emerge, and most sugar beets are emerging with few problems. The rain has delayed herbicide applications.
For producers looking for advice on how to deal with the wet conditions, Michigan State University’s Integrated Pest Management Office is referring people to its special flood issue, a field crop advisory team alert from 2004. The 16-page publication is available online at www.ipm.msu.edu
This farm news was published in the May 31, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.