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August 15, 2000

Governor Announces Training Program to Assist Farmers

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the start of a $1 million job training program to assist distressed farmers, farm family members, and farm workers being dislocated from farming.

"While many Illinois residents are benefiting from record prosperity, too many Illinois farm families have been hurt by low grain prices, drought, and rising energy costs," Ryan said. "Combined, these factors have put the family farmer at risk. This new job training program will provide distressed farmers with the skills to improve their business, or in some instances, begin a new career."

The job training program was created through passage of the Family Farm Assistance Act. The primary focus of the program is to assist dislocated farmers, farm family members, and farm workers through vocational retraining and help to find new employment. A second goal of the program is to assist farmers who are economically stressed, but have not yet been forced out of farming. Economically stressed farmers will receive training to improve their business skills to avoid future farm failures.

The program is funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs to New Start Inc., a Springfield based, not-for-profit employment and training agency with a mobile capability to provide assessment and training services statewide.

New Start Inc. is operating the program in partnership with the Illinois Farmers Union (IFU).

"Governor Ryan has shown a commitment to improving the state's job training services. This new program will target those services to farmers in financial trouble," DCCA Director Pam McDonough said. "By helping dislocated farmers acquire new skills, we're also helping improve the overall Illinois economy as companies look to fill positions with skilled workers."

"Our farm families are facing tough choices," Illinois Agriculture Director Joe Hampton added. "This program will help ease the transition out of production agriculture for some of our farmers and will help strengthen the operations of others. In either case, it opens up more options for producers who are under severe financial stress."

New Start Inc., is currently seeking applicants for the program. Anyone interested in applying should contact the Illinois Farmers Union at 1-800-227-0617.


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