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Farmers in 16 Michigan counties will get help from the federal government after the USDA designated them natural disaster areas.

Curled heads of wheat show the drought damage on Nicole Berg's ranch in southeast Washington state.
Anna King
/
Northwest News Network
Curled heads of wheat show the drought damage on Nicole Berg's ranch in southeast Washington state.

This came as no surprise to some, as these counties produced up to 30 percent less than expected for 2021’s harvest. Experts say farmers are on the "tip of the spear" in terms of climate and weather challenges. Paul Gross, the MSU Extension field crops educator in Isabella county, said the weather was to blame for farmers’ yield loss.

“Just because of the variability of the weather in Michigan that we had last growing season, there was three triggering events. One was the frost up north and one was excessive rains in Southern Michigan, I think, and then there was extreme dryness in parts of Michigan for certain periods of time”

Gross said battling climate change has become one of the most difficult challenges facing agriculture. The USDA’s designation allows farmers to apply for programs that offer low interest loans to help support them until the next harvest.