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| 1 min read | by Doug Marrin, dmarrin@thesuntimesnews.com |

Photo by Jordan Nelson on Unsplash

It’s been a tough year for agriculture in Washtenaw County and as a result of extreme weather fluctuations such as spring flooding and summer drought causing poor harvests, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared the county as a Primary Natural Disaster Area.

The move allows some producers to be eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

According to a United States Department of Agriculture 2017 census, Washtenaw County has 1,245 farms for a total of 178,995 acres devoted to agriculture, or 38.7% of the county’s 462,080 total acres. Farming in the county contributes $91,167,000 to the economy. Any hit to farmers has a big ripple effect.

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Washtenaw’s top commodities by sales volume include nursery and greenhouse operations, dairy, fruits, and Christmas trees as well as standard livestock and crop products. Top uses for acreage are soybeans, field corn, and pasture.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinancing certain debts.

Farmers have until June 30, 2020, to apply for the emergency loans. Among other criteria, eligibility is based on the extent of losses, available security, and ability to repay.

Other Michigan counties with the primary natural disaster designation include Alger, Antrim, Benzie, Berrien, Cass, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Clinton, Delta, Dickinson, Eaton, Emmet, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Huron, Ingham, Iron, Kalkaska, Lapeer, Leelanau, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Manistee, Marquette, Mason, Menominee, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Oceana, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon, St. Clair, St. Joseph, Sanilac, Schoolcraft, Shiawassee, and Wayne.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at farmers.gov/recover.

Sources: USDA Farm Service Agency Michigan, Michigan Farm Bureau

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