U.S. Secretary of Agriculture declares several counties disaster areas

CHICAGO - Several counties in eastern Illinois and western Indiana have been declared disaster areas by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture after a spring hail storm ruined area strawberry crops.

On Thursday, Governor Pat Quinn announced the declaration in a news release.  The declaration applies to Champaign, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, and Vermilion counties in Illinois and Vermilion, Warren, and Benton counties in Indiana.

The strawberry crop was maturing when a hail storm hit and destroyed the entire crop on May 21.  However, the storm didn't have a large impact on corn and soybean crops.

Most of Illinois' strawberry crop is located in Vermilion County, but the declaration extends to contiguous counties as well.  It allows farmers who have suffered losses to apply for loans with low interest rates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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