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State treasurer pledges $100 million in low-interest loans to assist farmers

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[AUG. 5, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- Local farmers who have been hurt by this summer's severe drought conditions can now apply for low-interest loans through the state treasurer's new Emergency Drought Relief Program, according to state Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield.

The treasurer's office has pledged around $100 million in low-interest loans that area farmers can access through their local financial institutions. Bomke said that any agricultural producers can apply for a loan if they live in one of the 101 Illinois counties recently declared disaster areas by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

"This summer Illinois received half the amount of rain we normally see," Bomke explained. "As a result the state's agricultural producers have reported significant production losses. These emergency loans are being offered as a way to help Illinois farmers get back on their feet and rebuild their lives."

Farm Service Agency assessments show that 117,000 Illinois farmers have seen production losses this year. Of that number, 74,000 farmers estimated that the drought had destroyed 30 percent or more of the crops, and 16 percent of the farmers said they've lost this year's crop entirely.

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Area farmers have 90 days to apply for the low-interest loans. Bomke said that the loan program will offer rates opening at 4.64 percent, and the rates will change on a monthly basis. During the six-month term of the loan, the borrower only has to make interest payments to the bank, with the principal coming due at the end of the term.

Anyone interested in applying for a loan through the Emergency Drought Relief Program should contact their local financial institution for more information or call the treasurer's office at (217) 782-2072.

[News release from Sen. Larry Bomke]

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