United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today called upon his colleagues in the House to pass a Farm Bill reauthorization prior to the August recess. The importance of the Farm Bill, set to expire in September of this year, cannot be overstated -- especially as our nation faces the worst drought it has seen in more than 50 years. Drought conditions have damaged nearly one third of our nation's crop. Some crops, including corn and soybeans in Illinois, have sustained irreparable damage.
In states like Illinois where agriculture is an essential engine of the economy, crop loss can have a particularly widespread and devastating impact. Hot, dry weather has dominated most of the state, causing a continuous decline in the conditions of Illinois' staple crops, such as corn. Crop insurance, would be predicated by the Farm Bill, provides essential protection for farmers against crop loss due to disasters, including this year's devastating drought. The Farm Bill reauthorization sets crop insurance subsidies at reasonable rates, assuring that all farmers can afford this essential coverage.
"As millions of Illinois acres wither from persistent drought, and thousands of Illinois farmers fear for their futures, the importance of effective, accessible crop insurance is obvious," Senator Kirk said. "Congress should immediately focus on protecting American farmers."
Senator Kirk's Agriculture Advisory Board, established last year to identify the impact of public policy on our farms, food and renewable energy, supports the passage of a Farm Bill, particularly the crop insurance program.
"This year, Illinois has a much higher potential for crop loss than we saw from the drought in 1988," said Terry Ferguson, Chairman of Senator Kirk's Agriculture Advisory Board. "For those family farmers entered into the farm insurance program, we hope that they can meet their obligations and that the federal assistance net will remain for those in extreme need."
"The need for a strong crop insurance program has never been greater. We have a front-row seat to witness history as what began as a promising corn crop has literally dried up before our eyes. Farmers take on tremendous risk. They do all they can to minimize the risk and crop insurance is a critically important tool," said Philip Nelson, Illinois Farm Bureau President. "I urge Congress to work swiftly and in a bipartisan fashion to pass a farm bill that the president can sign as soon as possible."
According to recent reports, soil and crop conditions in Illinois have continued to deteriorate. As of July 15, 2012, more than half of all Illinois corn crops were rated as being in "poor" or "very poor" condition, while only a gloomy 11% of corn was found to be in "good" or "excellent" condition.