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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2003

Farmers in 30 counties eligible for drought assistance

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that federal financial assistance is available to farmers in 30 counties who suffered agricultural production losses last summer due to severe drought conditions.

“Farmers in many areas of the state were devastated last year by the effects of heavy rains followed by a hot, dry summer,” Blagojevich said. “The loans that are key to this disaster declaration will help farmers recover and can be used to pay productions costs, refinancing existing debt and essential family living expenses.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week approved a request made by the governor in February to declare Cass, DeWitt, Mason, Moultrie, Pike, Stephenson and Winnebago counties as natural disaster areas. The declaration makes farmers in those seven counties, as well as 23 contiguous counties, eligible for USDA assistance programs, including low-interest loans.

Livestock producers also may be able to receive assistance, including cash payments on a per-head basis, if they owned grazing animals during the drought period.

The contiguous counties impacted by the declaration are: Adams, Boone, Brown, Calhoun, Carroll, Coles, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Greene, Jo Daviess, Logan, Macon, McLean, Menard, Morgan, Ogle, Piatt, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby and Tazewell.

In order to qualify for federal disaster assistance, counties must experience at least a 30 percent decline in production in any single crop. Assistance also can be provided if farmers no longer qualify for commercial credit due to disaster-related losses.

Farmers and others who believe they may be eligible for USDA assistance should contact their county Farm Service Agency office.

Last year, 63 other Illinois counties were approved for federal disaster assistance due to a wet spring and extreme heat and little precipitation in the summer. May 2002 was the 8th wettest May on record and the summer was the 14th warmest since 1895. There was less than five inches of rain between mid-June and mid-August, about three inches below normal.



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