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January 23, 2001

Governor Announces $1 Million Federal Grant to Increase Help to Illinois Farmers

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced Illinois has been awarded a $1.024 million grant by the U.S. Department of Labor to expand state job training and employment assistance to Illinois farmers, farm families and workers who have lost their jobs due to declines in the farming industry.

"This grant will enable the state to increase the number of people who can be assisted and to also provide more comprehensive services such as child care and transportation which often stand in the way of re-employment efforts," Ryan said. "In addition, the federal monies will provide more flexibility in the spending of state-allocated farm aid dollars, ensuring that assistance remains available to those financially-strapped farmers who, with a little help, still may be able to sustain a livelihood in farming."

The federal grant, awarded to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), supplements state funding of a program which began in August, 2000, following passage of Illinois' Family Farm Assistance Act. Called "New Fields For Farmers," the primary focus of the program is to assist dislocated farmers, farm family members, and farm workers through vocational retraining and help in finding new employment. A secondary goal of the program is to assist farmers who are economically stressed, but have not yet been forced out of farming. Under the program, economically stressed farmers receive training to improve their business skills to avoid future farm failures.

"New Fields For Farmers" was started through a $1 million 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. operates the program in partnership with the Illinois Farmers Union (IFU).

The two-year federal grant, provides that employment and training services be administered in collaboration with Illinois' 26 local workforce investment boards throughout the state. Among the services provided under the grant are career counseling, job search assistance, job development services and supportive services including child care and transportation.

Anyone interested in applying for the "New Fields for Farmers" program should call IFU at 1-800-227-0617.


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