SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- President Barack Obama will put Michigan State University on the national stage Friday when he signsthe federal farm bill in East Lansing. West Michigan fruit farmers stand to benefit from the legislations.
RELATED:Obama to sign farm bill Friday at MSU
Local farmers likely won't ever be able to forget 2012 when 19 frost events destroyed much of the state's fruit crops, including 90 percent of the tart cherries. But cherry growers have reason to get rid of any remaining sour moods: the new Farm Bill is sending help their way.
For the first time, crop insurance will be available for tart cherry growers and other fruit farmers not insured. "This will go back for the year 2012 where there was no apple crop, there will be some coverage there for them," said Sparta apple grower Jim May, who is already covered. He's really looking forward to new research at Michigan State University.
This bill provides money for research in pest and disease control, helping farmers like May help fight fire blight. The bill also increases programs for fruit and other specialty crops. Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, says also expect to see more organic dairy and artisan cheeses. "The sky is the limit."
Along with new research at MSU, there's funding for conservation programs, like sod waterways and better water quality. The bill also ends direct payments to farmers, which May says will weed out the part-time farmers who are working the system.
When you consider farming only makes up 20 percent of the Farm Bill, Michigan fruit growers seem to be getting a good slice of the pie.