The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday designated 87 counties in Illinois — including Madison, Bond, St. Clair and Clinton — as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain and flooding that occurred during since June 1.
Farmers and ranchers 14 more counties also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous to the primary disaster areas. Only producers in Lake County, in the northeast corner of the state, are not eligible for the disaster program.
“Our hearts go out to those Illinois farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Illinois producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”
All qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met.
“Illinois has suffered a lot of storm and rain damage throughout this Spring and Summer,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner. “I am pleased our request for federal assistance was granted and encourage farmers throughout these counties to contact their local Farm Service Agency for questions.”
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.
FSA has a variety of other programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
Rauner issued an official letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack on July 23. The 19 members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation also signed a letter to President Obama to endorse the governor’s request for this designation. Counties eligible for assistance were determined through the Loss Assessment Reports reviewed by the USDA.
“I am grateful to all the members of our Illinois Congressional delegation for their strong and united support for securing this assistance for farmers throughout the state,” Rauner added.
Farmers who believe they may be eligible for assistance should contact their county Farm Service Agency office. Loan applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and applicant’s repayment ability. Farmers who have questions should contact the state FSA office at (217) 241-6600.