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Print

Federal government: The drought is over in central Illinois

November 01, 2012 at 04:04 PM

The State Journal-Register

The drought of 2012 technically ended for much of Illinois — including Sangamon and most surrounding counties — with the weekly update released on Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

But the aftereffects of the worst drought in decades continue to be felt, including an announcement this week that farmers now are eligible for loans through the Illinois Finance Authority.

“There are still a lot of counties that are abnormally dry, but it has continued to ease up,” said Emily Timte, meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Lincoln.

Ten counties north of Springfield, including Logan and Mason counties, remained in a moderate drought, according to the weekly update. No area of the state is in severe to exceptional drought.

Timte said drought classifications are based on soil moisture and long-term precipitation trends.

A crop update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service this week showed only 20 percent of Illinois topsoil remains short of moisture as a result of fall rains, but nearly half of subsoil remains dry.

The 2012-13 winter forecast from the National Weather Service shows there is an equal chance of temperatures and precipitation above or below normal in much of the Midwest, including Illinois.

“It’s kind of split,” said Timte. “It could go either way.”

The Illinois Finance Authority is providing low-interest loans and also waiving a $300 application fee through a drought-aid package announced this week for grain and livestock farmers.

“These programs offer low-cost financing so farmers can make it through the next growing season,” IFA executive director Christopher Meister said.

Assistance includes debt restructuring, working-capital guarantees, loan participation and rural development loans.

Additional information is available at http://il-fa.com/agriculture/, or by calling (618) 244-2424.

Tim Landis can be reached at 788-1536.

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