Federal disaster assistance is available for farmers and orchard owners in 81 Illinois counties to help them recover from crop damage due to the April freeze, Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently announced.
Blagojevich said the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted his request to designate 55 Illinois counties as natural disaster areas. The designation allows farmers in those counties and 26 contiguous counties to apply for USDA assistance, which includes low-interest emergency loans.
Including the contiguous counties, the designation covers all of Illinois south of Interstate 80, except for Rock Island, Putnam, Woodford, Marshall and Champaign counties.
Temperatures dropped into the lower 20s and upper teens throughout the state during the cold snap, April 3-11. Orchards were especially hard hit because the freeze followed a warm March that accelerated crop growth and encouraged trees to bud.
Experts say Illinois’ $13 million peach crop may be a total loss, and winter wheat was extensively damaged.
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