Farmers face disastrous drought, emergency help now available
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ill. — Farmers don't need terms like exceptional drought to know what's going on. They just have to take a short walk into their fields.
The good news is that help is on the way. The USDA now considers more than a dozen counties in our area drought disaster zones.
That will give farmers access to benefits like low-interest loans. But not all farmers are looking for the help just yet. Some are hoping to save their crops.
That means they're looking to crop insurance before they turn to Uncle Sam.
"It wasn't like it just popped up all of a sudden," said Mike Lamczyk, a Franklin County farmer.
Lamczyk said he knew it was coming. His Franklin County corn is way behind and in some cases nonexistent.
"Some places in this county, it hasn't rained since the middle of April," he said.
But Lamczyk believes he's one of the lucky ones. He has crop insurance and while his corn may be charred, with even a little rain, his soybeans might do something.
"They were planted about the middle of May," he said. "It may not be a full crop but it'll be a partial crop."
The USDA disaster designation means some farmers in Illinois are eligible for emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency.
The loans can pay for production costs associated with failed crops. Farmers must have a 30 percent loss to qualify. The interest rate for the emergency loans will be 2.25 percent.
Lamczyk said he'll try to harvest and then likely meet with his insurance agent.
"Make a pass or two through the high spots and see if anything comes in the hopper," he said. "Whatever it's going to make is already there. It cannot get any better."
Farmers with crop insurance must wait until they harvest everything, because insurance companies will want to know the exact amount of the loss.
Southern Illinois counties included in the disaster designation are as follows: Jackson, Union, Alexander, Pulaski, Franklin, Williamson, Johnson, Massac, Hamilton, Saline, Pope, Gallatin and Hardin.
A Farm Service Agency spokesperson told Local 6 that Perry and Jefferson counties are not included in the designation but farmers in those counties can still qualify by meeting certain criteria.
For more information, officials ask that you visit your local Farm Service Agency office.