Illinois farmers are facing dire field conditions in what is one of the wettest springs in the state’s history. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-East Moline) is looking to help.

Bustos took a step to getting area farmers aid on Friday when she urged Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to issue a disaster declaration for areas of the state’s 17th Congressional District, according to a June 21 news release from her office.

“Our region is facing unprecedented weather conditions – the likes of which our farmers and producers have never seen in their lives,” said Bustos in the release. “Flooded fields are preventing farmers from getting crops in the ground this season, and it’s clear they are in need of assistance.”

Though the 17th district only covers a portion of Tazewell County — including Pekin — a representative from her office said in an email to the Daily Times that Bustos advocated on behalf of all counties represented in the district.

There is no timeline on when a decision would be made, according to the email, as that decision is up to Perdue.

In the release, Adam Nielsen, Illinois Farm Bureau director of national legislation and policy development, praised Bustos for her advocacy.

“The congresswoman has done a great job of staying connected to farmers in her district during this challenging period, and we appreciate her leadership to help find solutions that will help our members recover from this disaster,” said Nielsen.

Emily Rogier, Tazewell County Farm Bureau manager, said this declaration would follow a federal bill from earlier this month that included $3 billion for agricultural relief.

According to a June 6 report from Politico, the package would provide the funds to farmers to help cover crop losses. 

Rogier said it is still unclear how the aid money would be distributed.

Last week, farmers, as well as farm and climate experts, spoke with the Daily Times about their experiences in the fields this spring, and whether the unusual weather conditions are a sign of things to come. Read more here.