WASHINGTON — An announcement today by the
means farmers in the entire state of Illinois are now eligible to apply for emergency assistance because of the drought.
Fourteen more counties in the state were designated by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as natural disaster areas because of drought and heat: Bureau, Cook,
, DuPage, Grundy, Henry, Kane,
, Kendall, Knox, Mercer, Putnam, Stark and Will.
The designation makes qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
, D-Ill., applauded the decision, which came after he and all but one lawmaker in the state’s congressional delegation wrote Vilsack to support a request from Illinois Gov.
, D-Ill., who is on a medical leave of absence, did not sign the letter.
No industry in the state has a greater economic impact than agriculture, so “when farmers struggle, the entire state feels it,” Durbin said Wednesday in a news release.
Vilsack said that USDA has streamlined the disaster-designation process, reduced interest rates on loans and provided flexibility in conservation programs to support struggling producers.
He pledged “swift action” in the weeks ahead to help farmers and ranchers.
Altogether, Vilsack designated 172 new counties across 15 states as primary natural-disaster areas on Wednesday.