U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with members of the Illinois Soybean Association to discuss current drought conditions in Illinois, as well as the Senate's recently passed bipartisan 2012 Farm Bill and other agricultural priorities.
"Illinois' soybean farmers are a critical part of our state's economy. With drought conditions throughout Central and Southern Illinois, and as record-breaking temperatures continue to heat up the Midwest, we must make sure that our farm communities have access to resources and assistance that will help them through the growing season. Two 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," Durbin said.
This was the eighth driest June on record for Illinois, with the statewide average precipitation more than 2 inches below normal. Although the soybean crop will not reach its most critical growth stage until early August, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that currently only 40 percent of soybeans in Illinois were in good or excellent condition, and 27 percent were determined to be in poor or very poor condition.
USDA has historically responded to disasters like extreme heat and drought by providing direct support, disaster assistance, technical assistance, and access to credit. Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom 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 assistance 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 Soybean Association 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.