(KFVS) - Farmers in 26 counties in southern Illinois can apply for drought-related disaster relief.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared several 26 Illinois counties as disaster areas due to the drought.
Those counties are Alexander, Clark, Clay, Crawford, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, and Williamson counties immediately meet the criteria.
Under new USDA rules announced Wednesday, 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.
Early assessments indicate farmers will sustain substantial yield loses, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Farmers who believe they may be eligible for assistance can contact their county Farm Service Agency office.
The USDA also announced a more accessible disaster declaration process and lower interest rates, now 2.25 percent, for loans. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands qualifying for emergency haying and grazing have a payment reduction from 25 percent to 10 percent.
Additional disaster declarations in Illinois are expected in the near future.