State official urges USDA to use federal funds to support Michigan farmers

National

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – From orchards full of cherries and apples to greenhouses producing beans and asparagus, Michigan grows it all.

Unfortunately, the local farming community struggled to overcome severe weather and low commodity prices last year, and COVID-19 has created even more economic hardships for the state’s agricultural businesses.

Today, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, calling on him to support Michigan when distributing the $14 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation and the $9.5 billion appropriated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture industry generates $104.7 billion in total economic activity for the state. Our farmers and producers need USDA’s help to survive this,” said McDowell.

MDARD is asking for temporary flexibilities on farm loans recently announced by USDA’s Farm Service Agency to be made permanent for the duration of the pandemic response and subsequent economic recovery.

Michigan dairy producers have seen falling prices and fluctuating demand, leading them to literally dump out milk.

With consumer demand down, difficulty getting labor, and multiple processing facilities closing, meat and poultry businesses are struggling to stay above water.

“Michigan’s farming and agriculture community is facing extraordinary challenges to keep food on the shelves, said McDowell. “We’re grateful for the aid our farmers received when 82 of the state’s 83 counties were declared disasters last year. I am hopeful we can count on USDA’s continued support in these unprecedented times.”

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