Jun 25, 2012
Michigan throws fruit industry lifeline with loan program

Michigan fruit growers are poised to receive a second source of disaster loans.

A state bill creating emergency aid to farmers whose crops were devastated by unseasonably warm spring weather has passed the state House and Senate and is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The governor this month asked for federal disaster loans, which may not be approved until the fall.

The earlier-than-usual warm weather this year fooled buds into blooming, then killed them with freezing temperatures at night, resulting in losses of 95 percent of Michigan’s peaches, 90 percent of tart cherries, 90 percent of the apple crop, 85 percent of juice grapes and 80 percent of sweet cherries, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Michigan fruit industry hasn’t suffered losses like these since the 1940s.

The losses amount to an estimated $235 million and could grow if farmers decide against harvesting because the yields would be too small, according to the Michigan Farm Bureau. The Detroit News

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