Mid-Michigan farmers react to signing of farm bill - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Mid-Michigan farmers react to signing of farm bill

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RICHFIELD TOWNSHIP (WJRT) -

(02/07/14) - As the farm bill was being signed at MSU, many Mid-Michigan farmers were getting their farms ready for the spring planting season.

The bill provides a level of certainty and a safety net for farmers, enabling them to borrow money for equipment, seed and other things needed to grow crops.

"Having a new Farm Bill gives us security and a sense of knowing we have some sort of direction here. Without a Farm Bill, we had no guarantees. We've been fighting over this Farm Bill for over two years," said Bill Hunt, of Hunt Farms in Richfield Township.

One provision in the bill calls for a government-backed private insurance program to offer some protection against crop failure.

"It gives us a sense of security because we're going into spring planting and now we at least have an idea how the Farm Bill could help us in a disastrous year. With the new Farm Bill, it's going to be beneficial in the sense that, of protecting us from the unknowns at this point," Hunt said.

The bill will end the direct payment subsidy program that distributes $5 billion every year to farmers, regardless of need.

"With the farm bill now, we have a direction. I believe the direction is going to be beneficial to agriculture," Hunt said.

Those who grow those specialty crops are also happy the president signed the bill. Michigan grows a wide variety of crops, some of which weren't protected by the Farm Bill that was just replaced.

"Oh, it's absolutely wonderful to have a farm bill," said Mike Yancho, of Trim Pines Farm.

Trim Pines Farm in Grand Blanc Township is well known in Mid-Michigan for its Christmas trees, but under the old Farm Bill, there was little federal protection if disease or drought struck there.

"Now this has been expanded so that we can purchase insurance so that when we have a calamity like the Emerald Ash Borer or something like that which can totally wipe out our ability to sell our crop that we won't go bankrupt," Yancho said.

That's good news for many Michigan farmers who aren't growing corn, wheat and soybeans.

"Only California produces a wider variety of agricultural products than Michigan does. That where the specialty crop insurance has its value for Michigan agriculture," Yancho said.

That's why the signing ceremony at MSU was a pleasant sight for most.

"In general, most farmers are happy about it," Yancho said.

The legislation is supposed to provide those benefits without driving up your grocery bill.

"The Farm Bill we're doing today should not affect the price that you pay for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk," Hunt said.

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