Foster Swift Agricultural Law Update
On July 25, 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that four counties in Michigan were designated as primary natural disaster areas due to this summer’s drought: Branch, Cass, Hillsdale, and St. Joseph. The following counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous: Berrien, Calhoun, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, and Van Buren. On July 26, 2012, the USDA announced that "During the 2012 crop year, the [USDA] has designated 1,369 counties across 31 states as disaster areas—1,234 due to drought—making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans." "The U.S. Drought Monitor currently reports that two-thirds of the continental United States is in a moderate to exceptional drought." The USDA has created a website focused on the drought.
On July 25, 2012, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) issued a press release regarding the USDA’s designations. "Michigan's agricultural community appreciates the rapid response by USDA in issuing a disaster declaration under their new expedited process. Our farmers and producers are facing unprecedented extreme weather conditions this year including frost/freeze that devastated many fruit crops to the drought conditions wreaking havoc on our corn and soybeans producers," said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. "This disaster designation is essential to keep our farmers in business and ensuring they have ready access to the resources they need to keep feeding Michiganders and the world," said the Director.
As stated in the July Agricultural Law Update, on July 2, 2012, the USDA designated 72 counties in Michigan as primary natural disaster areas due to the severe weather this winter and spring. For more information about primary natural disaster areas, please visit your local USDA FSA office.