Gov. Pat Quinn has asked the U.S. secretary of agriculture to issue a disaster declaration for an additional 69 Illinois counties. That means the state has now asked the USDA to declare all 102 Illinois counties as disaster areas under USDA rules because of the drought. In his letter to the secretary, Quinn says farmers are “experiencing significant losses due to a persistent, unprecedented, statewide heat and drought.”
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Under USDA rules, a county automatically qualifies for a disaster designation once it is categorized by the U.S. Drought Monitor as being in a severe drought for eight or more consecutive weeks during the growing season. Farmers in USDA disaster-designated areas can seek assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), including emergency loans. Those in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for assistance. Last week Quinn toured a family farm in Waltonville where, as in much of the state, the corn crop has been hit hard by the drought. Twenty-six counties have already been declared disaster areas by the USDA. Those include: Alexander, Clark, Clay, Crawford, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White and Williamson.