Durbin Meets with Illinois Corn Growers to Discuss Ongoing Drought and Agriculture Priorities

House Action on Farm Bill Critical

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with members of the Illinois Corn Growers yesterday to discuss current drought conditions in Illinois, as well as the Senate’s recently passed bipartisan 2012 Farm Bill and other agricultural priorities.


“Last weekend, I saw firsthand the impact that drought conditions and record-breaking temperatures have had on Illinois crops.  Illinois’ corn growers are a critical part of our state’s economy, which means we must make certain that during these tough times they have access to the resources and assistance they need,” said Durbin.  “Three weeks ago, the Senate passed the Farm Bill with a strong bipartisan vote. This bill includes good, strong programs that will help our farmers and our state, while also saving more than $23 billion over the next ten years. We must continue to invest in the right mix of incentives and support to further propel the agricultural strength of our state and our nation.”


“If the House of Representatives fails to pass a farm bill, that failure will have a direct impact on Illinois farmers. Unless the House takes action by the September 30th deadline, agricultural policy in the United States will move backwards and revert to a law passed more than sixty years ago – a policy which does not contain the critical protections provided either by current law or the Senate passed bipartisan bill. House passage of a Farm Bill is critical to protecting farm operations in Illinois and across the country, especially in light of the ongoing drought disaster.”


On Sunday, Durbin toured a local farm near Springfield, Illinois and met with state agriculture officials today to discuss what can be done to support farmers with struggling crops. Durbin also spoke to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and urged him to do all he can to assist Illinois farmers in need.


This was the eighth driest June on record for Illinois, with the statewide average precipitation more than 2 inches below normal. With the corn crop currently in the midst of its most critical growth stage, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that 56 percent of the corn crop in Illinois was determined to be in poor or very poor condition.


USDA has historically responded to disasters like extreme heat and drought by providing disaster assistance, technical assistance, and access to credit. Last week, Vilsack announced program improvements that will make it easier for farmers impacted by natural disasters to access these tools. These improvements will reduce the processing time disaster declaration applications and lower the interest rate for USDA’s emergency loans. The newly streamlined process will also allow USDA to declare hundreds of counties as primary disaster areas due to drought in a timelier manner.


Durbin also spoke with members of the Illinois Corn Growers about the 2012 Farm Bill passed by the Senate in June, which will save $23 billion in taxpayer money over the next ten years and strengthen initiatives that help America’s agriculture economy continue creating jobs. The Senate’s bipartisan legislation makes significant reforms to American agriculture policy by ending four different commodity subsidy programs and replacing them with more market-driven programs that only make payments when farmers experience a loss.