These fruit farmers will have this opportunity as a result of the latest farm bill changes.
Cherry growers across Michigan may soon have the opportunity to buy crop insurance following the passing of the Farm Bill, which is a piece of legislation that is worth almost a trillion dollars.
According to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, “Right now, the tart cherry farmers have zero (crop insurance).” This year has been a devastating one for many of the cherry farmers across the country, starting right at the beginning of the growing season, when the spring weather was highly unpredictable.
Currently, cherry farmers cannot purchase crop insurance that is government backed.
The federal crop insurance program can sometimes cover up to 85 percent of the losses that covered growers experience in rough years. At the moment, a pilot program is in place to test the coverage for cherry growers in two northern Michigan counties – Leelanau and Grand Traverse.
The bill will mean that crop insurance will be able to help mitigate the risk of future losses.
Stabenow explained that “This bill creates that crop insurance opportunity going forward to cover those losses.” This coverage could be a significant step forward for agriculture in several of the areas of Michigan where these fruits are grown.
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The Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station coordinator at the Michigan State University Extension, Nikki Rothwell, is in agreement with Stabenow. She said that “In a year like this, crop insurance could have really helped our farmers,” she said. “It’s a risk management tool for them.”
According to Stabenow, if the Farm Bill continues on in the same way that it is currently written, it will allow for much greater opportunities for fruit grower block grant funding. She went on to say that it would also be able to widen the support that farmers markets receive, and that the local food movement would obtain a significant boost.
Crop insurance is only part of the benefits that the Farm Bill could provide, as certain areas will receive additional assistance in order to define themselves as regional food centers. At the moment the legislation is sitting in the U.S. House of Representatives where it is pending.