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  1. Governor
  2. Drought Response Task Force
  3. Agricultural Resources

Agricultural Resources 

The combination of extremely hot and dry weather has caused Illinois crop conditions to deteriorate.  The Illinois Department of Agriculture is working closely with its federal counterparts, specifically the Farm Service Agency (FSA), to determine whether Illinois qualifies for an agricultural disaster declaration because of drought-related crop losses.  An indication of the scope of the damage should emerge after July 13, the date farmers must certify their crops that are enrolled in FSA programs.  Such a declaration would qualify farmers for USDA assistance programs, including low-interest emergency loans.

Corn Mycotoxins

The Bureau of Agriculture Product Inspections conducts a mycotoxin survey each fall on the corn grown in Illinois. The Bureau inspectors collect four samples of corn from each county in Illinois, except Cook and DuPage, and sends the samples to the Bureau’s Chemistry Lab to be tested for aflatoxin, fumonisin, and vomitoxin. The results of the testing are put on maps to show the levels of mycotoxins in different counties of the state. The results are posted on the Departments web site and sent to grain elevators where the samples were taken and to every feed mill in the state with recommendation that if the maps show high levels of mycotoxins in their area that they test all corn that goes into animal feed.

Maps of Mycotoxins in Corn: Aflatoxin | Fumonisin

SBA Loans Available for Counties Declared Secretarial Disasters

The SBA has announced that disaster loans are available to counties affected by the drought. Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, or ranchers. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions. The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3 percent for private non-profit organizations of all sizes and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available in Illinois: September 7 | August 22-1 | August 22-2 | August 21 | August 13 | August 6

USDA Provides Greater Flexibility

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, announced several changes to existing conservation programs and a grace period on unpaid insurance premiums for crop insurance, to help producers through the continuing drought.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

Lands that are not yet classified as “under severe drought” but that are “abnormally dry” can be used for haying and grazing, which will increase available forage for livestock. Haying and grazing will only be allowed following the local primary nesting season, which ends August 1, 2012 in Illinois. For questions, please contact your county FSA office.

USDA Authorizes Early Release of CRP Acres for Grazing for 10 Illinois Counties

July 24 2012 | Full Release | Map

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Farmers can modify current EQIP contracts to allow for grazing, livestock watering facilities, water conservation and other conservation activities to address drought conditions. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will work closely with producers to modify existing EQIP contracts and to re-apply those activities that have failed for farmers because of the drought. Funding will be targeted towards hardest hit drought areas throughout the United States. For questions, please contact USDA NRCS:

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

USDA NRCS has expedited its Compatible Use Authorization process to allow haying and grazing of WRP easement areas in drought-affected areas for producers with land currently enrolled in the program. Haying and grazing must be consistent with conservation of wildlife habitats and wetlands. For questions, please contact USDA NRCS:

Federal Crop Insurance Program

USDA will encourage crop insurance companies to voluntarily forego charging interest on unpaid crop insurance premiums for an extra 30 days, extending the deadline to November 1, 2012, for spring crops. In return, USDA will not require crop insurance companies to pay uncollected producer premiums until one month later. For questions, please contact your USDA Risk Management Agency representative.

USDA Announces New Help for Livestock Producers with Changes to Emergency Loans, Crop Insurance

August 22 2012 | Full Release

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development, adoption, and evaluation of innovative approaches and technologies that enhance adaption to drought.

Straw, Hay, and Grazing

Hay Transportation

The Department of Transportation has now issued an authorization that allows farmers with hay up to 12 feet wide to travel on interstate highways.

Illinois Hay & Straw Directory

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has produced an online directory to help Illinois producers locate hay if their pastures have been badly damaged by drought and they have no feed for their livestock. The directory, which is free of charge, can be accessed at Copies also are available by calling the Bureau of Marketing and Promotion at (217) 782-4925.

Hay Harvesting Permits

Illinois law authorizes the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to issue permits allowing hay to be harvested and switchgrass to be produced on specified rights-of-way. Permits will be issued on a case-by-case basis. Interested farmers should contact their district IDOT office and complete the following application.

Emergency Haying and Grazing

The Illinois Farm Service Agency has approved emergency CRP haying and grazing. It will become effective August 2, 2012, which is after the wildlife nesting and brood rearing season in Illinois and shall not exceed August 31, 2012 for haying. The authorization to graze will also begin August 2, 2012 and shall not exceed September 30, 2012.

Farm Service Agency Resources

On the state level, Financial Assistance is available in the form of loan assistance through the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA). For more information about federal disaster assistance programs, click the appropriate links provided below:

Contact your local Farm Service Center for more information