A low-interest loan program is being put into place to help the Michigan fruit industry, which is enduring what is being called “extraordinary devastation” after spring freezes.

The state’s governor has signed a bill that will appropriate $15 million to support lenders with partial reimbursement of administrative costs equal to up to 5 percent of a loan’s principle. The new act is called the Agricultural Disaster Loan Origination Program of 2012.

The measure makes those in designated disaster areas eligible for 1 percent interest loans of up to $400,000 for farmers, $800,000 for processors and handlers, and $1 million for processors at multiple locations.

The Michigan State University Product Center estimates near total crop losses for Michigan's apple, juice grape, peach, and sweet and tart cherry producers. Combined with the losses experienced by asparagus producers, the center estimates losses will reach $225 million for the state's agriculture industry.

Michigan’s tart cherry crop, normally three-fourths of national production, was reduced by the freezes to about 12.5 million pounds, 5 percent of normal, and the apple crop was reduced to about 2.5 million bushels, 10 percent of normal.

Both Huntington Bank and GreenStone Farm Credit Services have agreed to make the loans. Other lenders may participate as well.