WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Assistant Secretary Ken Barbic in her Capitol Hill office, where she again urged the USDA to issue a disaster declaration for Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. This meeting follows a conversation Congresswoman Bustos had with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue where she first called on him to issue a disaster declaration.
“I’ve met with hardworking family farmers across our state, listened to their concerns and seen their flooded fields firsthand,” Congresswoman Bustos, a member of the House Agriculture Committee said. “I thank Assistant Secretary Barbic for taking the time to meet with me today and hear more about the challenges facing Illinois farmers. It’s clear we cannot wait any longer to issue a disaster declaration, which would provide our agricultural producers with the tools they need to overcome these challenging times. I’ll continue to stand up for our farmers as they battle the unpredictability of Mother Nature and a reckless trade war.”
During the meeting, Congresswoman Bustos stressed the need to issue a Secretarial disaster declaration for Illinois’ 17th Congressional District so growers can be eligible for disaster funds from the Market Facilitation Payments and increased prevent plant crop insurance coverage. She also invited Secretary Perdue to visit her Congressional District to see the extent of the flooding damage himself and asked how else she can be helpful to facilitate an emergency declaration. Additionally, she expressed concern about inaccuracies in the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s June, 2019 Acreage Report and thanked Assistant Secretary Barbic for extending the crops-reporting deadline for Illinois to from July 15 to July 22.
Congresswoman Bustos has held discussions with farmers across the district – including Whiteside County, Henry County, Mercer County, Rock Island County and with the Illinois Farm Bureau. During those conversations, farmers have expressed to Congresswoman Bustos that conditions are the worst they have ever seen. As a result, many are being forced to take a prevent plant crop insurance payment – which may not even cover their expenses. Today’s meeting also comes after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker joined Congresswoman Bustos and urged Secretary Perdue to issue a disaster declaration. In addition to extreme weather conditions, farmers continue to face uncertainty due to the president’s reckless trade war. Since being elected to Congress, Congresswoman Bustos has used her position on the House Agriculture Committee to advocate tirelessly for protecting and opening markets for Illinois farmers.