Important next steps for growers with damaged trees in northwest Michigan
Growers that have damaged orchards from the March 2 snow storm need to contact FSA and document damage and cleanup costs.
As growers are currently assessing their orchard damage from the March 2 storm, there is important new information on the next steps in this quickly changing process. First, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) from many northwest counties has placed a request to the state office for a program that assists with debris clean-up from cropland (EC1). Although the status of this request is not known at this time, growers need to take the following steps to ensure they are included in the program if and when it is approved.
First, growers need to contact their local FSA office and file a notice of loss report. Growers should take at least one picture of each block that has damaged trees. Growers should then identify the damaged blocks and the number of trees in each block that have damage in one of the following ways:
- Obtain a crop report (578 crop report) from the FSA office and write the number of damaged trees on that document.
- Use the FSA aerial map and note damaged trees on it.
- Simply document the block and number of damaged trees within that particular block.
Once growers have contacted FSA and filed a notice of loss report with their local office, they can begin to clean up orchards. However, the costs for the cleanup process needs to be documented. We recommend that growers keep track of the number of hours and pay rate for employees (including themselves) working on cleaning up their orchards. They should also record the number of hours or time for equipment use (tractors, chainsaws, flail chopper, etc.). This documentation is essential as growers will need to show it to FSA if and when the cleanup program is approved. The EC1 Practice, if approved, would cover 75 percent of the actual clean-up costs up to a maximum of $4 per tree (i.e., if actual costs are $4/tree then grower would be paid $3/tree).
The FSA contact number in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties is 231-941-0951. Growers in Antrim County should call FSA at 231-533-6450, and Benzie-Manistee growers should call 231-757-3707. Growers should contact Nikki Rothwell at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station with further questions at 231-946-1510.