Proposed bill to assist farmers with disaster finances

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Lauwers that would update the state’s agricultural disaster relief program and enable farmers to apply soon for low-interest qualified loans.

Senate Bill 693 would update the Agriculture Disaster Loan Origination Program to reflect the specific needs of the 2019 season and allow lenders to begin issuing loans with the $15 million appropriated by the Legislature in June 2019, which would provide access to up to $300 million in loans.

“Farms across the state suffered tremendous losses this year due to the incredibly wet spring we had,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “Updating this program will provide farmers with a better cash-flow position and offer peace of mind that they don’t have to sell the family farm.”

The Agricultural Disaster Loan Origination Program is a partnership between farmers and processors, private lenders, and the state to support the agriculture industry through loss of crops due to weather-related disasters.

The program provides growers and agribusinesses low-interest loans, and it gives farmers the peace of mind that they can take out a loan based on their qualified losses to cover their everyday expenses, including machinery, land and infrastructure payments.

Among other changes, SB 693 would update the interest rate to the five-year U.S. Treasury Note rate plus 2% and extend the lending period to seven years.

SB 693 now heads to the full Senate, where it is expected to be taken up soon.