From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Plans Underway to Help Farmers Secure Loans

The mortgage crisis and economic upheaval have made it harder for individuals and small businesses to secure loans. Now there is an effort in Illinois to help ensure that farmers affected by the drought can get one.

This year's drought could mean farmers will be pouring into banks, looking for loans. Illinois Finance Authority Director Chris Meister said it is too early to tell now because farmers are busy harvesting the crops they have. But he said he expects in coming weeks that will change.

"Everything that we've been hearing is that the magnitude of this year's drought is really going to be unlike anything since the 1950's, and as a result, Illinois needs to be prepared," Meister said.

Meister said the Finance Authority, a quasi governmental body, is working to get banks on board with a program designed during the last major drought, in the '80s. It is designed to encourage banks to lend to farmers, by backing up their loans.

Meister said historically, the default rate in drought relief programs has been low, but he says the Authority is prepared if the current drought lasts beyond this year.