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Release Date: 09/03/2021

September 3, 2021   


USDA Grants Gov. Whitmer's Request for Disaster Designation  

LANSING, Mich. — Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for granting a primary disaster designation to Sanilac County, which experienced severe drought conditions during the growing season. This designation makes farm operators in Sanilac County – as well as the contiguous counties of Huron, Lapeer, St. Clair and Tuscola, eligible for assistance from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). This action follows the Governor’s request to USDA for a disaster designation for all Michigan counties impacted by adverse weather this year as well a request that USDA make available any other possible assistance under the Federal Crop Insurance Program or other USDA programs to help Michigan’s hardworking farmers recover.    

“From freezing temperatures and drought to flooding and high winds, many of our producers are finding themselves in the midst of yet another difficult growing season. I am pleased the USDA responded to our request and I’m looking forward to the further assessment of those counties not included in this designation. This relief can’t come soon enough for our farmers who endured tremendous hardship as a result of the adverse weather we’ve seen this year,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am grateful to USDA and our Michigan delegation, especially Sen. Debbie Stabenow, for their ongoing leadership and partnership to ensure our farmers receive the assistance and supports they need.” 

In July, the governor sent a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting a disaster designation for counties impacted by severe weather to help provide relief for Michigan’s farmers. 

Our farmers and producers continue to face unpredictable and extreme weather conditions,” said Gary McDowell, director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “This disaster designation and emergency loan opportunity provides a helping hand to our farmers ensuring they have ready access to the resources they need to keep feeding Michiganders and the world.” 

This spring, Michigan experienced a significant period of freezing temperatures after many warm days, which negatively impacted several crops at a key time in their development. In addition, parts of Michigan’s croplands have experienced both drought and flooding, in some cases within days of each other. The storms from June also brought high winds and large amounts of rain in multiple areas of the state, causing damage to barns and agriculture infrastructure, as well as to standing crops.  

“Areas of the Thumb experienced difficult weather conditions this spring, including ongoing drought and late frost that had a detrimental impact on the ability of farmers to produce a crop,” said Jim Zook, executive director of the Michigan Corn Growers Association. “We appreciate the Governor’s actions to secure a disaster declaration, which will give farmers access to much-needed USDA resources and assistance.” 

“The value of soybeans grown in Michigan is $614 million dollars annually. Sanilac County is the second largest soybean-growing county in the state per the National Agricultural Statistic Service, producing over 6.4 million bushels of soybeans in 2020 alone. This designation as a disaster area not only brings awareness to the impacts drought can have on agriculture, but also offers financial support for farmers struggling due to these weather implications,” said Janna Fritz, CEO of the Michigan Soybean Committee. “Soybeans from Michigan are used in a multitude of ways, including many value-added soy-based products such as tires, lubricants and biodiesel fuel. Our soybean growers appreciate the efforts of our ag leaders including Senator Stabenow, Governor Whitmer and Congresswoman McClain to secure this declaration, which will help our industry recover from this disaster and allow Michigan farmers to continue growing a crop that supports the Michigan economy.” 

This Secretarial Disaster Designation makes farm operators eligible to be considered for certain types of assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), including emergency loans. Producers should contact their local FSA office for additional information.  

To view the governor’s request and to view the USDA’s designation notice click the links below