Illinois farmers now have until July 15 to officially say they won’t be planting crops this year. A key deadline has been extended for claiming some types of crop insurance.
It's been one of the wettest springs in state history. Just last month alone, Illinois averaged more than five inches of rainfall, a whole inch above normal. It’s been so wet for so much of the planting season, farmers across the state haven’t had much of a chance to get their crops in the ground.
DeAnne Bloomberg, with the Illinois Farm Bureau, explained farmers already were under pressure thanks to federal soybean tariffs.
“Combine that with decreased commodity prices, and now you’ve thrown in some weather...it definitely creates a lot of challenges," she said.
The USDA reported this week that 95 percent of corn and 93 percent of soybeans are planted statewide. In a typical year, all those crops would have been planted by now. But farmers are already accustomed to weather challenges.
“At some point, they [farmers] are sick of talking about it," Bloomberg said. "They’ve accepted that they just have got to take it day by day."
In light of the difficulties, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency is taking an unusual step: they’ve extended the deadline for farmers to report what they were prevented from planting this year to July 15, well beyond the typical early-June deadlines. Illinois is among the 10 states where the agency has extended that deadline.
William Graff directs Illinois’ branch of the Farm Service Agency, or FSA. He remembered farmers facing wet conditions like this year only one time before.
“1993 was excessively wet. We had a lot of river flooding, but that came a little later in the year,” Graff recalled. “This one is a little bit unique. A lot of farmers are going to remember 2019 for a long time.”
In his travels so far this year, Graff has seen empty farms across Illinois.
"As you drive up and down the roads, you’re gonna see these fields that aren’t planted and that’s what happened: it was just so excessively wet that they [farmers] weren’t able to get the fields planted," Graff said. "So, they come in and tell us what they were planning on planting in those fields.”
Graff says the extended deadline gives Illinois farmers more time to either get their crops planted, or report losses in order to claim crop insurance.
So long as farmers submit a report to an FSA office before July 15, and if they have the right kind of crop insurance, they can recoup the losses. For now, only farmers with what’s known as “prevented planting” insurance are able to make claims.