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Whitmer requests federal disaster for Michigan farmers

Whitmer wrote that early assessments indicate that crops like cherries, peaches, wine grapes, apples, blueberries and other row crops have been damaged.
Credit: AP
In this June 28, 2013, photo bunches of sweet cherries ripen in an orchard owned by Patrick McGuire of Atwood, Mich. (AP Photo/John Flesher)

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to the federal government Monday asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare a disaster for Michigan counties affected by severe weather. 

Whitmer said Michigan farmers are "facing challenges" due to weather events, like freezing temperatures, flooding from dam failures and high water levels. 

"Many of our producers are finding themselves in the midst of yet another difficult growing season," said the letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. 

See the governor's letter here.

In addition to the disaster declaration, Whitmer also requested the USDA make assistance under a federal crop insurance program to help Michigan's farmers during this season. 

"For example, we are hearing that some farms will have no cherries and that the overall crop could be 50 percent or less of a normal year. This is especially significant as Michigan is the largest tart cherry producing state in the country. And this is just one crop," the letter said. 

Whitmer also wrote that early assessments indicate that crops like peaches, wine grapes, apples, blueberries and other row crops have also suffered damage from the weather.

The USDA has already initiated disaster declarations for 20 counties because of the cold temperatures, and a major disaster declaration was declared for five counties in the Midland area after two dams failed. 

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