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Local News

Congressmen, Pritzker urge USDA to declare disaster for counties with crop damage

A pair of ducks wade through a flooded field Friday outside Shorewood.
A pair of ducks wade through a flooded field Friday outside Shorewood.

All Illinois members of Congress joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker in urging the Department of Agriculture to issue a disaster declaration in eligible counties where flooding affected crops.

Earlier this month, Pritzker said a disaster declaration was needed due to a large winter snowmelt and excessive rain during planting season.

“This has meant delaying, reducing or even eliminating planting, hurting a core state industry and impacting working families,” Pritzker said in a news release.

The members of Congress, including local U.S. Reps. Bill Foster, D-Naperville; Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs; Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville; and Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, all signed onto a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue backing Pritzker last week.

In the letter, they said this past spring was the second-wettest on record for Illinois and the wettest in 30 years, with the state receiving 16.36 inches through late May. They said that since late May, farmers in Illinois saw several weeks with less than two and a half days for planting.

“On behalf of affected Illinois farmers, we respectfully request that you issue a Secretarial Disaster Declaration and that USDA disaster loans and emergency funding be offered to eligible counties that have been hurt by these catastrophic weather events,” the members said in the letter.

They also cited a USDA report, which found corn and soybean planting progress was well behind the five-year average. In Will County this season, more than half of the corn crops either did not get planted or were damaged, leading to yield reduction, and at least one-fifth of soybeans could not get planted, Will County Farm Bureau Manager Mark Schneidewind said. Schneidewind said he and local farmers agreed the USDA should declare a disaster in Illinois.

“It affected everybody,” he said. “We’ve never seen it to this magnitude before.”

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