The Illinois Farm Service Agency (FSA) Monday submitted 87 counties that apparently qualify for a secretarial disaster declaration to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Doug Bailey, Illinois FSA chief program specialist, told FarmWeekNow.
Earlier Monday, the State Emergency Board, comprised of state leaders of federal ag-related agencies, reviewed county FSA loss assessments and weather data from the Illinois State Water Survey. After FSA Executive Director Scherrie Giamanco forwarded the information to Washington, D.C., the state enters “a wait-and-see mode” for the secretary’s decision, Bailey said.
The 15 counties not submitted for disaster designation are a strip of east central Illinois counties that had “pretty good crops” or are located along the Illinois-Wisconsin border, according to Bailey.
In submitted counties, farmers suffered a 30 or more percent loss of at least one crop, or at least one farmer experienced at least a 30 percent loss of one or more crops and the county FSA loan officer stated that farmer would not qualify for commercial credit and would use FSA as a “lender of last resort,” Bailey said. That single farmer caused the entire county to qualify for a disaster declaration, he added.
For now, Illinois enters a “wait-and-see mode,” although Bailey anticipated the federal agency would not delay a decision. After Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday wrote Vilsack seeking a disaster declaration, Bailey received an email the next day seeking information from Washington, he said.
On Friday, Illinois farmers also received support from Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and the state’s entire congressional delegation. The legislators wrote President Obama, supporting a secretarial disaster declaration along with USDA disaster loans and emergency funding to eligible counties “hurt by these catastrophic weather events.”
Bailey expects a decision from Washington outlining counties designated primary disaster areas and those designated secondary disaster areas. The state FSA loan officer would administer any emergency loans. Farmers in qualifying counties would work with the farm loan officer in their local FSA office, he explained.