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MDARD: Rain Delay On Crops Will Cause Long-Term, Statewide Impact

July 16, 2019

(CHARLOTTE) — It’s not certain yet if consumers will feel a price hike at the grocery store, but this spring’s heavy rains will have a long-term impact on Michigan, the state agriculture department director said July 8.

“It’s going to be a large economic impact on Michigan,” said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), who added later, “It’s going to be a major impact felt across the whole state.”

The long-term impact prediction was what Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also heard July 8 from Duane Smuts, owner of Smuts Farms in Charlotte, who hosted the Governor to inspect the farm’s damage, and where the Governor signed a bill to provide $15 million in aid to farmers.

HB 4234, sponsored by Rep. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker), will provide $15 million for the qualified agricultural loan origination program, designed to alleviate financial distress caused by crop loss or damage, and intended to reduce origination costs to farmers seeking loans.

The Governor, along with Witwer, Smuts and a few other farmers, other industry officials, and media looked at blown-up aerial drone photos of the Smuts property, before walking out to inspect the farm’s dried-up field.

The bill signing is part of the latest effort by the Whitmer administration to address the heavy rains that have affected Michigan farmers. 

Previously, the Governor had reached out to the feds for help getting flexibility in the crop insurance program. Whitmer said she’s spoken with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue personally as well. 

The rains have put farmers behind in planting crops, and corn and soybeans have suffered the most this spring, McDowell said. 

The shortage this year could go long-term because those crops affect other areas of agriculture, like livestock, McDowell said, meaning farmers may have to cut back on their herds next year. Plus, supporting industries like suppliers, local elevator owners and machinery dealers will also feel the ripple effect.

At this point, however, McDowell said it’s not a sure thing people will see a price hike at the grocery store. There’s always a possibility that September and October could make up the time lost so far. But that won’t be known until the fall.

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