CADILLAC — U.S. senators representing Michigan have joined farmers and agricultural groups throughout the state in asking the USDA for help following the extremely rainy spring.
“Consistent rain and wet weather have created challenging planting conditions for farmers across Michigan this spring,‘ Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Pontiac, wrote in a letter to Bill Northey, under secretary for Farm Production and Conservation for the United States Department of Agriculture.
“We urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide flexibility and equitable treatment for Michigan farmers who have had to delay planting their crops ... grain planting in Michigan has approached the slowest pace on record due to the relentless rain that we’ve seen. As agronomists have indicated, the unplanted acres are a problem — but even the crops that have been planted may see stunted growth or may require replanting.‘
Stabenow and Peters urged the USDA to provide increased flexibility under federal crop insurance rules for utilizing forage and cover crops on prevented plant acres.
They also asked that the $19.1 billion disaster aid relief bill approved by Congress and signed into law recently by President Donald Trump be expanded to include farmers affected by any case of excessive moisture, not just flooding.
Stabenow and Peters joined Michigan Farm Bureau and a number of other agricultural groups — including the Michigan Cattlemen’s Association, Dairy Farmers of America and Michigan Milk Producers Association — who have expressed concern about planting delays caused by the wet spring, which have been described as “unprecedented‘ by Livestock Specialist Ernie Birchmeier.
Theresa Sisung, associate field crops and advisory team specialist for Michigan Farm Bureau, said it is a virtual certainty that farmers will see significantly lower crop yields as a result of delayed planting and winter kill.
Sisung said there is still hope that summer conditions will allow farmers to make up some of the yield loss resulting from spring, especially if farmers are granted leeway by the USDA.
Michigan State University Extension Educator Paul Gross said in a previous interview with the Cadillac News that most farmers in this region grow crops to feed their livestock, so they aren’t as directly affected as those that grow crops to sell.
However, they still would have to purchase additional feed if they aren’t able to grow enough to feed their animals, which can be a very expensive purchase.
The Cadillac News reached out to the USDA to inquire about the status of the request by Michigan Farm Bureau and the senators but did not receive a response by press time.