Pritzker asks feds to declare farm disaster
USDA agency seeks to declare all 102 Illinois counties an agriculture disaster
By Ted Cox
Gov. Pritzker is backing a federal agency in asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare the entire state an agriculture disaster.
The governor issued a statement late Wednesday saying: “For months, our state has been battling historic flooding, causing untold damage to homes, businesses, and farms across Illinois. For our farmers, this has meant delaying, reducing, or even eliminating planting, hurting a core state industry and impacting working families across Illinois. While the state will continue to do everything we can to help, a Secretarial Disaster Declaration will provide much-needed aid to impacted farmers in Illinois, and I am hopeful the USDA will make this declaration.”
The Governor’s Office cited that Pritzker was endorsing the findings of the USDA’s Farm Services Agency, which recently convened a State Emergency Board meeting that recommended all 102 Illinois counties be declared a disaster area.
The recommendation has to be reviewed by USDA staff before being formally endorsed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, but if approved the declaration will provide federal resources such as low-interest loans to farmers and agri-businesses after a disastrous spring planting season.
A large and abrupt winter snow melt was followed by heavy and persistent rains that produced flooding across the state this spring. That extended into summer as Brian Kerschner, of the Illinois State Water Survey, reported that rainfall across the state averaged 5.4 inches in June, 1.2 inches above the average, according to a story on FarmWeekNow.com.
According a federal farm acreage report released a week ago, corn staged a furious comeback to remain level from last year in Illinois planting and even exceed last year’s level nationally, but soybeans lagged behind. USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture Bill Northey estimated that prevented-planting claims for crop insurance could exceed $1 billion nationwide
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan also endorsed the recommendation to declare the entire state a farming disaster, saying, “Agriculture is our state’s No. 1 industry, and we must provide any and all assistance we can from all levels of government.”