All of Illinois Declared “Primary Disaster” Area

Story by Rachel Otwell

All counties in Illinois have been designated as "primary disaster areas" due to drought. That's after the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday added counties in northern Illinois.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the designations came at the request of Gov. Pat Quinn, and also because of a national drought monitor that shows lack of rain plaguing the entire state. All counties have been affected by drought for at least the past 8 weeks. The designations mean all Illinois farmers are eligible for emergency loans from the feds.

"Our farmers and ranchers around the country are a resilient bunch," Vilsack said. "While it's a good deal of stress, they're not daunted or overwhelmed by this challenge. They're going to get through it with the help of their friends and neighbors and the help of U-S-D-A and other federal agencies."

Vilsack is calling on the House of Representatives to finish work on the "Food Farm and Jobs bill" to help plan for the coming year:

"There's a lot of uncertainty about what the farm programs are actually going to be next year," he said.

For now, Vilsack said the federal government has exhausted virtually all immediate tools in drought assistance.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio