Gov. Pritzker: Steps being taken to help farmers hurt by flooding

Gov. Pritzker: Steps being taken to help farmers hurt by flooding
Flooding off Route 3 in Alexander County on June 12.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS) - Governor JB Pritzker says steps are being taken to help farmers affected by the near-record flooding.

According to his office, he has convened with members of his cabinet to ensure that Illinois farmers can access all available state resources, including pooling efforts and resources between the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Pritzker spoke with USDA Farm Service Agency Director William Graff about making Illinois high on the federal authority’s agenda when the FSA State Emergency Board is scheduled to meet on June 27. At that time, the Board can recommend to the governor that an agriculture disaster declaration be declared, which would allow the governor to request additional federal assistance for farmers in counties that have been impacted by flooding and excessive rain.

“Farmers need to contact their local county FSA offices and report their planted acres as soon as possible—certainly before July 15th,” said John Sullivan, Director IDOA. “The sooner the planted and ‘prevent plant’ acres are reported, the sooner the federal government can best determine the extent of losses to farmers and producers.”

Acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said this was one of the worst floods in Illinois in more than a quarter of a century.

“The flood of 2019 has impacted more than 40% of state’s population, outside of Cook and the collar counties," said Tate-Nadeau. "In the weeks to come, as the water recedes, we will begin to see the damage of this flood. County damage assessments will be a critical tool in qualifying for federal disaster dollars. As we move forward, IEMA will continue to work with county emergency managers as they work to identify the true cost of this great flood.”

In addition to taking initial steps to secure federal assistance, IDOA and IEMA are also undertaking several other initiatives.

IDOA will offer a $400,000 cover crop incentive program for farmers who, due to the lateness of planting, have filed Prevented Planting claims which means those acres will lay fallow this year. Cover crops reduce nutrient runoff, conserve soil and prevent soil erosion, and is an alternative to chemical weed control.

Local county soil and water conservation districts will assist to administer the program.

The IDOA’s website now has a “Flood Assistance” tab with links to available State and Federal flood assistance resources.

IEMA launched a flood recovery website designed to address the needs of those impacted by severe flooding. From emergency housing assistance to replacing SNAP benefits or agricultural aid, countless state agencies have come together to offer help to those in need.

It will continue to facilitate coordination between the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and local levee districts to evaluate the health and integrity of levees throughout the state.

Also, the IEMA will work with local governments to identify projects and programs dedicated to local mitigation and remediation.

According to the governor’s office, the IEMA continues to work to enhance communication networks in rural Illinois through the deployment of Starcom technology and IPAWs messaging to alert residents of impending threats to health, safety and property.

IEMA, through the State Emergency Operations Center, will work to have debris removed, get access to roads/rivers and check availability of necessary resources to address agribusiness logistical concerns.

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