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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2005

USDA gives swift approval to Gov. Blagojevich’s request for designation of Illinois counties as agricultural disaster areas,
opens door for farmers in need of emergency loans Gov. Blagojevich applauds USDA Sec. Johann for quick response

CHICAGO – After visiting drought-damaged fields in Northern and Central Illinois earlier today, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich tonight congratulated the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for designating all but one of Illinois’ 102 counties as agricultural disaster areas.  The Governor formally requested a disaster declaration from the federal government on Monday for Illinois counties hit hard by this summer’s drought. The USDA’s decision will allow farmers and ranchers to apply for federal assistance.  The Governor applauded U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and the USDA for their quick response.
 
“Illinois farms not only supply food for communities across our state, but also across the nation and the world.  This designation is critical in helping Illinois’ farmers and ranchers get back on track and hopefully recover from a devastating season of low crop yield.  I want to thank the USDA for their quick action,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  
 
 Today’s announcement will make all qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans provided by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  Farmers in eligible counties may apply for the loans up to eight months from the date of the declaration to cover part of their actual losses  
 
In addition to EM loans, the USDA has made several other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers in recovering from damage by this year’s drought including the Emergency Conservation Program, Federal Crop Insurance, and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
 
The 93 counties designated today as primary disaster areas due to the drought include:
 
Adams, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, De Kalb, De Witt, Douglas, Du Page, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Lake, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Massac, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pope, Putnam, Randolph, Richland, Rock Island, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, St. Clair, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago, Woodford
 
Eight other counties are also eligible because they are contiguous:
 
Bond, Christian, Franklin, Hancock, Macon, Montgomery, Pulaski, Union
 
For more information on the EM loan program or other services, farmers may contact their local USDA Service Center or visit the USDA site at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.
 
Earlier today Governor Blagojevich visited farm fields in Peoria and Will Counties to view damage caused by this summer’s severe drought conditions.  On Monday the Governor sent a letter to Secretary Johanns requesting that all 102 Illinois counties be declared natural disaster areas, making farmers eligible for federal disaster assistance.


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