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Farm industry officials say rural communities will need help recovering from June flooding

Jun 29, 2017

Water is still slowly receding from farmers' fields in parts of mid-Michigan. Agriculture industry leaders say soil conditions will continue to be affected long after the water is no longer in the fields
Credit Michigan Agri-Business Association

Michigan agri-business leaders say recent floods have devastated farm fields and heavily damaged rural infrastructure in several mid-Michigan counties.

More than seven inches of rain fell on parts of mid-Michigan last Thursday. Water inundated farmers’ fields. Dry beans appear to be the hardest hit crop, with about 10% of the crop lost, according to state agriculture industry officials.

Jim Byrum is the president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.  

He says it’s a blow for some growers.

Washouts have closed dozens of roads in Isabella, Midland, Gladwin and Bay counties
Credit Michigan Agri-Business Association

“Commodity prices have been low.  There’s farms out there that have been stressed the last couple years,” says Byrum. “And there’s some this will not bode well for them going forward, unfortunately.”

Michigan State University extension and USDA estimate crop losses from last week’s heavy rains at more than $20 million. Industry officials say the full extent of the losses won't probably be known until next January, once farmers have a chance to fully assess the damage to their crops

However, while crop losses are devastating to some growers, Byrum says damage to rural roads is more significant.

“It's just unbelievable the washouts in Isabella County … it’s just road after road after road,” says Byrum.

Ag industry leaders say they’ll be talking to FEMA officials about the need for money to repair damage to roads. Federal inspectors will be joining state and local officials in assessing the damage from the heavy rains and flooding.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Transportation has submitted a notice of intent to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requesting emergency relief funds to repair flood-damaged roads in Mid-Michigan.

If granted, the funds would be used to repair federally funded state and local roads in the counties with disaster declarations.

Bay, Gladwin, Isabella and Midland counties have all been added to the state’s official declaration.