Some Michigan apple growers hit hard by devastating freezes in 2012 could take advantage of a federal disaster relief program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that affected growers were eligible to apply for aid on July 22. The USDA is authorized to distribute aid under the 2014 farm bill’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Growers who were not eligible to receive crop insurance before the 2012 freezes, which destroyed about 85% of Michigan’s apple crop, can qualify for the federal relief.

Most Michigan growers were covered at the time of the freezes, said Diane Smith, executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan Apple Committee.

But not all were, and some could get relief under the USDA program.

“The majority of our growers did have crop insurance, but there are some counties that may have just one grower, and that grower couldn’t get crop insurance.”

If there aren’t enough growers of a given commodity in a certain area, Smith said, growers aren’t eligible for crop insurance. Hillsdale County in Michigan is one example.

“The numbers are very small, but there may be a handful” of growers who could benefit from the USDA program, she said.

The 2014 farm bill’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program was authored by the chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.