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As concerns and uncertainty grow around coronavirus (COVID-19), Illinois Farm Bureau is working diligently to communicate impacts to our elected officials and identify resources forour members. We greatly appreciate the outreach we are receiving from our elected officials during this time, asking how they can help.

IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. applauds Congress and the Trump Administration for their rapid response to write and pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which begins to address the financial insecurity farmers and this nation face during these uncertain times. Read President Guebert's statement regarding the CARES Act.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act 

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, a $2.2 trillion dollar economic stimulus package to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on multiple sectors of the economy.  

IFB has been hard at work carrying our members’ voices and concerns over the past several weeks to our elected officials, to USDA, and to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).  

The package provides a lot of flexibility for the USDA to develop programs to assist farmers. Highlights are as follows:  

  • $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to a full $30 billion ahead of June 30, when it is typically done. CCC funding is flexible.  
  • $9.5 billion to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 by providing support to impacted agricultural products, including specialty growers, producers who supply local food systems including farmers’ markets, and livestock producers including dairy farmers.  
  • Section 11003 – The Secretary may extend the terms of a marketing assistance loan for any loan commodity up to 12 months (authority expires 9/30/2020).  
  • Additionally, $10 billion is set aside for the Small Business Administration to administer programs. Please check the SBA COVID-19 webpage for programs, eligibility requirements, and paperwork. Agricultural enterprises that meet the size requirements are eligible to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. There remain uncertainties for how Small Businesses are defined. You can read more from AFBF as they work on this issue here.

As Secretary Perdue looks to utilize these funds, he is communicating broadly with agricultural leaders from every state. We are conveying our members’ most pressing needs and discussing with neighboring states opportunities to support the renewable fuels market and livestock producers. 

National Announcements:  

  • (March 26, 2020) H-2 Visa Applicant Processing: In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Department has authorized officers to expand the categories of H-2 visa applicants eligible to waive an in-person interview. This announcement allows for increased workforce access. “Temporarily waiving in-person interviews for H-2 visa applicants streamlines the application process and helps provide steady labor for the agriculture sector during this time of uncertainty,” said USDA Secretary Perdue. To read more, visit Specialty Crops.
  • Many food and agriculture workers were deemed a part of the nation’s “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” by President Trump on March 16th. To see details of what services were deemed essential, you can read this memo from the Department of Homeland Security.
  • For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • IFB is continuing to communicate with AFBF staff daily. You can find additional AFBF resources on the COVID-19 issue on their website.

State Announcements:  

  • AG DEEMED ESSENTIAL There is no requirement for a permit or identification as an essential employee for those working in agriculture in Illinois. 

    • Please be patient with ag retail during this time as they operate under social distancing requirements and best practices. Phone calls are the safest ways to conduct most business right now as businesses do their part to maintain healthy so they can best serve customers now and into heavy planting season.

  • (Updated March 26, 2020) Members have asked how the Governor’s Executive Order impacts various auctions scheduled to take place over the coming weeks. We have confirmed with IDOA the following:
    • Land and machinery auctions should be conducted online or via phone at this time.
    • Livestock auctions can occur with appropriate social distancing requirements enforced (including maintaining 6’ of distance between attendees, practicing hand washing and sanitation, and others). Online or phone bidding is strongly encouraged. 
  • Governor pushing back state tax filing date to July 15, 2020
    • The Department of Revenue is still expecting farmers and those who qualify to make expected/estimated payments as best they can.
  • For the latest ag news on the impacts of COVID-19, visit

Join the Conversation

Illinois Farm Bureau provides daily coronavirus updates on the RFD Radio Network’s RFD Today program. We want to know how the pandemic is affecting farmers in your area and help answer questions you may have. Submit your question or comment by email or tweet us at @FarmWeekNow. Your submission may be answered or discussed on RFD Today the week of March 23. View the RFD Radio schedule below, and tune in to your local RFD affiliate or listen to the podcast here.

Monday, March 30

Mark Gebhards, Illinois Farm Bureau, Q & A on COVID-19
Jennifer Waters, FCAE Illinois Ag Education
Rebecca Richardson, Illinois Soybean 
Joe Camp, AgriVisor 


Tuesday, March 31

Mark Gebhards, Illinois Farm Bureau, Q & A on COVID-19
Dr. Hoschek, COUNTRY, COVID-19 
Dan Hicks, Freese-Notis



Wednesday, April 1

Mark Gebhards, Illinois Farm Bureau, Q & A on COVID-19
Todd Lowry, Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation



Thursday, April 2

Mark Gebhards, Illinois Farm Bureau, Q & A on COVID-19
Kirby Wagner, Illinois Farm Bureau, View from the Road
Kelly Estes, U of I, pest update
Illinois Corn Growers