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Michigan farmers stress access to crop insurance at the first 2023 Farm Bill hearing

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Rick Brewer
/
WCMU News
A panel of farmers, conservationists, and small business owners gave public comments for the 2023 Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Friday.

Farmers, small business owners, conservationists and tribal leaders from across the state met in East Lansing on Friday for the nation's first public hearing for the 2023 Farm Bill.

Every five years, the Farm Bill provides billions of dollars in federal programs to rural and urban agriculture communities for things like access to markets, conservation programs and nutrition assistance.

One of the biggest concerns Michigan farmers are asking to be included in the next Farm Bill is access to more crop insurance and programs to combat climate change.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

“They’re not asking for a handout," said Stabenow. "What they want is just help to make sure there’s a back stop that helps them with their risk and then the other thing that underlined so much is the importance of sustainability, protecting our land and water.”

Juliette King McAvoy of King Orchards in Central Lake (Antrim County) says climate change has greatly impacted cherry production in northwest Michigan and specialty crop insurance must be renewed.

“Volatile spring weather is just one effect we are seeing on our farm. Most recently causing back-to-back crop failures in cherries. The Farm Bill has the opportunity to help mitigate the consequences of the changing climate,” said King McAvoy.

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Rick Brewer
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WCMU News
Juliette King McAvoy is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at King Orchards in Central Lake

When asked about adding more climate change programs in the 2023 Farm Bill Senator Stabenow said it is unclear at this time and she'll have to discuss it with the committee.

The provisions in the Farm Bill go well beyond farm land. Rachel Lyons of the Bay Mills Indian Community in Brimley (Chippewa County) says the forestry programs provided in the Farm Bill have been essential for her community and there needs to be more attention on food security.

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Rick Brewer
/
WCMU News
Senator John Boozman, R-Arkansas, and Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, listened to public comments for the 2023 Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Friday April, 29.

“The programs and funding associated with this legislation are an absolute necessity for our communities to not only address concerns related to our natural resources, but also in helping to increase food security for our people,” said Lyons.

Lyons says tourism is the backbone of the Bay Mills Indian Community and that is dependent on natural resource conservation in the Farm Bill.