LANSING (WWJ/AP) – U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says Michigan’s cherry growers are getting new crop insurance options.

The Michigan Democrat serves as head of the Senate Agricultural Committee. She announced details of the expanded options on Tuesday.

According to Stabenow’s office, insurance for sweet cherry growers previously was offered in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. She says it now will be offered to sweet cherry growers in Antrim, Benzie, Manistee, Mason, and Oceana counties, and insurance options are being developed for tart cherry growers.

Tree fruit growers in Michigan sustained devastating losses this year when a hard freeze followed an early thaw, wiping out much of the year’s tart cherry crop and heavily damaging the sweet cherry crop. At the time, Stabenow said many of them didn’t have access to federal crop insurance.

Michigan is the nation’s top producer of tart cherries, which are used in pie filling and other products. Orchards in a five-county section of the northwestern Lower Peninsula account for about 180 million pounds a year, nearly 80 percent of the U.S. crop.

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