Even before the drought, Michigan’s fruit farmers were devastated by abnormally early warm temperatures, followed by frost that damaged or destroyed much of their crops. Now we’re mired in what media reports describe as the worst drought in 50 years, certainly worthy of disaster status.
This calls for state and federal government to fast track — or at the very least focus attention on — the situation and what can be done to help farmers now.
While deficits keep going up and states struggle with budget shortfalls, farming remains a vital part of our heritage and our economy. Our area farmers need a helping hand as they struggle through a virtually rainless summer.
Meanwhile, the federal Agriculture Reform Risk Management Act of 2012 is in limbo. A group of congressmen have urged a rapid vote on the issue. Others claim the vote is not important, that Congress can simply extend the 2008 farm bill before its scheduled expiration on Sept. 30.
USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Undersecretary Michael Scuse, who recently visited and surveyed central Michigan farmlands to assess losses caused by drought conditions, said there is urgency to pass a Farm Bill before the existing disaster relief programs are set to expire.
The fact is, some important disaster assistance programs have already expired and won't be renewed until a new farm bill passes or Congress votes to reauthorize funding for them.
We can’t afford to wait. Farmers need our help now. Possible government programs to help farmers include lower interest rates on emergency loans and a payment reduction on acres in the Conservation Reserve Program that are used for haying and grazing.
Rapid assistance for Michigan farmers is needed, and needed now. It's time to put politics aside and take action.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.