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Chairwoman Stabenow Intros Disaster Relief Bill for Michigan Farmers

February 4, 2013

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, cosponsored legislation that was introduced today to provide disaster relief to Michigan growers and ranchers who have suffered unprecedented crop losses. Early freezes and devastating droughts in 2012 decimated orchards, fields, vineyards and livestock herds across the state. Michigan farmers lost 97% of their cherries, 88% of apples, 86% of peaches, and 60% of grapes. During last summer's drought each of Michigan's 83 counties were declared a disaster area.

"We cannot allow Michigan families to be wiped out because of a few days of bad weather," said Stabenow. "Agriculture supports nearly one in four jobs in Michigan, and when key parts of the industry are hit this badly it impacts our whole state's economy. Our nation is helping families who lost everything because of weather disasters like a hurricane in the Northeast, and it is only right we also help families who lost everything because of weather disasters in Michigan. The Senate passed bipartisan disaster relief last year and it's long past time for House leaders to join us in supporting farmers so we can finally get this done."

Stabenow's bill provides disaster relief to growers who lost orchard trees and vines as well as those growers who did not have access to crop insurance (which includes many Michigan fruit growers). The bill also includes support for ranchers impacted by severe drought.

Last year, the Senate overwhelmingly passed Chairwoman Stabenow's Farm Bill, which contained this disaster relief, boosts the agriculture economy and reforms agriculture programs to save taxpayers $24 billion. While the Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, House leaders refused to bring the bill up for a vote. With the new Congress convening in January, all bills not fully enacted in the last Congress must start the legislative process over. Chairwoman Stabenow has pledged to pass a Farm Bill in the Senate again this Congress, and continues to fight for disaster relief for Michigan farming families as a part of that bill or as a standalone measure like the bill introduced today. Chairwoman Stabenow was successful in securing a disaster declaration last year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide some help to some farmers, but Congress must act to provide the remaining disaster relief necessary to help families recover.

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