Governor Pat Quinn on Monday announced state assistance available to farmers and residents in drought impacted areas after meeting with farmers and viewing crop damage resulting from persistent, widespread drought conditions in Southern Illinois. Joined by Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Bob Flider, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director David Vaught and Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller, the governor called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grant a disaster designation to a total of 33 Illinois counties, up from the 26 determined eligible for emergency support by the USDA last week.
Through a request to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Governor Quinn requested that seven additional counties (Bond, Champaign, Greene, Monroe, Morgan, Stephenson and Washington) be declared eligible for emergency USDA support. He also announced a set of four agricultural aid programs offered by the Illinois Finance Authority.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Illinois’ economy, and as we’ve seen today, severe drought conditions are devastating crop production throughout the state,” Governor Quinn said. “As this drought continues, we are committed to using all the tools we have to help impacted farmers and communities bounce back.”
In addition to the USDA relief, Governor Quinn announced that the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) will partner with local banks to activate four programs statewide to accelerate support to eligible farmers:
- Agricultural Restructuring Debt Guarantee Program provides an 85 percent guarantee with a term up to 30 years on a local bank loan up to $500,000 used to consolidate existing debt and spread payments out over a longer period
- Working Capital Guarantee Program provides an 85 percent guarantee with a commitment up to three years on a local bank loan up to $250,000 used for input costs related to planting and raising agricultural crops
Agricultural Loan Participation Program provides IFA purchase of up to $500,000 of a customer’s bank loan to reduce interest rate with a loan term up to 10 years
- Rural Development Loan Program provides loans under a relending program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development from $50,000 to $250,000 for economic development financing in communities with less than 25,000 population
The Governor also launched Drought.Illinois.gov
, a web repository for information on drought conditions, disaster declarations and related information. The website includes quick access to resources like the Department of Agriculture’s “Illinois Hay Directory” which can help Illinois producers locate hay to feed their livestock. Many pastures have been badly damaged this year, making the Hay Directory especially important. Printed copies of the Hay Directory also are available by calling (217) 782-4925.
Check out our Featured video on FarmWeekNow.com for the complete video of Monday's news event.