Perdue Declares Illinois Agricultural Disaster

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday declared an agricultural disaster in every Illinois county, immediately triggering availability of low-interest Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans to eligible farmers.

Illinois FSA Executive Director William Graff thanked Perdue and the FSA national staff and praised state and county FSA staff for compiling and clarifying ag loss data at a busy time.

“Tons of research was done in every county FSA office and the state office to accomplish this disaster declaration,” Graff told FarmWeek.   

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. noted the declaration reflected farmers’ situation: “Most of this year has tested Illinois farmers’ mental and physical fortitude. Weather variability, from unrelenting spring rains to extreme July heat, has caused uncertainty in our communities as we head toward what is sure to be a long harvest. The secretarial disaster declaration is a recognition of our struggles in 2019 through the availability of federal resources to aid our recovery.”

Emergency FSA loans help farmers who suffer qualifying farm-related losses directly caused by the disaster.

Before the state was declared an agricultural disaster, multiple steps were needed. On June 26, the FSA state emergency board discussed the possibility of requesting a federal disaster declaration and recommended such a request for 102 counties. On July 3, Gov. J.B. Pritzker sent a letter supporting a declaration.

Then, county FSA offices assembled required loss information for reports that were reviewed by county emergency boards. The FSA state emergency board reviewed county reports and recommendations before submitting information to FSA national headquarters. FSA national staff reviewed Illinois loss information and determined eligibility before Perdue signed a declaration.  

Eligible Illinois farmers may use low-interest FSA emergency loans to rebuild or replace essential property, cover production costs, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the family farm or refinance certain non real estate operating debts. To qualify, the farmer must show a production loss of 30% or more in 2019 caused by the disaster.

“Illinois farmers have experienced months of hardship due to extreme weather across the state, but today’s declaration means we can begin the road to recovery,”  Pritzker said in a prepared statement.

Illinois Agriculture Director John Sullivan agreed with Pritzker’s assessment: “The Secretarial Disaster Declaration is a recognition of the extreme weather conditions Illinois farmers have faced this planting season.”

For more information, visit:  FSA Emergency Farm Loans