The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

July 31, 2012

Clinton County seeks disaster aid

Local officials go after drought disaster declaration status

CLINTON — The county has submitted a letter from the ECIA for a disaster declaration for the drought along with four surrounding counties.

Clinton along with Cedar, Dubuque, Jackson and Delaware counties will be considered for low-income federal loans as the letter is passed on to farm services as approved by the Clinton County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

“This is definitely needed,” Supervisor Jill Davisson said. “The drought has been one of the worst I’ve ever lived through.”

If the drought follows a usual pattern it should continue three more weeks, according to State Climatologist Harry Hillaker.

There are two methods by which a county meets USDA qualifications for Secretarial disaster designation. A county automatically qualifies if it is categorized as being in a “severe drought” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor for eight consecutive weeks during the growing season.

Once the USDA Farm Service Agency determines that a county demonstrates a 30 percent production loss of at least one crop countywide, FSA notifies the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

IDOA and the Governor’s office work together and submit a letter to ask that the county be granted Secretarial disaster designation.

Chairman Brian Schmidt had an issue with the letter, which allows livestock to feed on conservation lands under certain guidelines and receive supplemental hay.

“This dilutes the hay market,” Schmidt said. “Government intrusion is not always good.”

The supervisors voted to dismiss the supplemental hay part of the letter. Supervisors agreed that the disaster declaration would help, but would not solve the problems of the severe drought.

“Low-interest loans are a pain and take weeks to fill out,” Davisson said. “There are lots of ramifications of this drought such as farmers not buying new equipment and everyone suffering, especially those on food stamps. It’s a domino effect and everyone is affected by it. We are signing the letter to help, but low-interest loans are not the answer.”

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