July 25, 2012
By Marcia Lense
Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced that 22 additional counties have been declared federal disaster areas due to significant crop losses suffered during one of the hottest and driest summers on record.
In our area, the counties added to the list include Carroll, Henderson and Jo Daviess. With the declaration, a total of 48 Illinois counties are now eligible for low-interest federal loans. According to a state new release, the USDA is still assessing a request for federal disaster declarations in 54 other counties, including Rock Island County.
"While what we need in the short-term is more rain, federal and state assistance will make sure farmers can get in the field next year," Simon said during the a meeting at the Western Illinois University Quad Cities Rive front Campus in Moline.
As of Thursday, Moline had received just 14.99 inches of rain for the year, a 28 percent drop from normal according to the National Weather Service. So far this month Moline has received just 0.31 of an inch of rain, over two inches below normal.
Statewide precipitation has only been 13.54 inches this year, making it the second driest January-July period on record according to the Illinois State Water Survey. 95 percent of the state has been classified as in severe drought or worse. This has taken a toll on crops as 66 percent of corn, 49 percent of soybeans and 91 percent of pasture was rated poor to very poor this week by the USDA.
The state has launched www.drought.illinois.gov
as a repository for drought-related information and resources. The website includes information on recent drought conditions, water conservation tips, a listing of state and federal agricultural resources, announcements of new declarations, and applications for available financial assistance. The state has activated four loan programs that supplement federal assistance and crop insurance.