LANSING (WWJ) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared disasters in 72 of Michigan’s 83 counties, following extreme winter and spring weather that devastated several fruit crops. As a result, fruit growers are eligible for low-cost loans and other assistance.

Bob Boehm a manager with the Michigan Farm Bureau says 2,500 farms across the state have suffered.

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“I don’t remember a time that we’ve had the kind of 90 to 95 percent losses in all of the crops in the same year across the entire region,” said Boehm.

Boehm said, in total, the impact on Michigan farmers and the economy has been monumental.

“We’re estimating losses to farmers around $225 million, but when you extend that out to all of the processing, the shipping, fresh handlers, that would be normally relying on those crops, you can easily double that.”

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, is reaching out to struggling farmers in the state.

She says farming is always a risky business.

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“And when you add that fluctuation and weather now, that makes it very, very difficult, Stabenow said. “So we’re talking about people who will have no income this year at all — and it’s about helping them get through this.”

The support will offer fruit growers a lifeline for the short-term.

Farmers in eligible counties have eight months to apply for emergency loan assistance.

Forecasters say it’s been an extremely dry June. Metro Detroit had just over an inch of rainfall — more than two inches fewer than normal.

The National Weather service has declared an Excessive Heat Watch for Southeast Michigan in effect Tuesday through Friday. (More on this here).

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