Jefferson City, MO – An ongoing drought has cost Missouri's economy nearly $500 million in the past year.
State officials say western and northwestern Missouri are in extreme stages of drought; conditions that could soon hit the rest of the state.
Analysts with the Department of Natural Resources say the extreme dry conditions appear to be spreading eastward. Forty-one counties are under either a drought advisory or alert. Another 32 counties are in the conservation phase.
The state director of agriculture, Lowell Mohler, says he hopes for a federal subsidy to help farmers.
Seventy-three Missouri counties are currently affected by drought. The state Department of Natural Resources has a four-phase system for categorizing the severity of drought.
In the drought advisory phase, the least severe, the state monitors water supplies to examine the present situation and the likely future.
During the alert phase, the drought is more severe. A committee of local, state, and federal officials is created to examine the drought's effects. Impact teams are created from the committee to examine how to deal with specific issues, including crops and drinking water.
In the conservation phase, the drought is much worse, and local residents are affected. The committee continues to look for ways to counter the effects of the drought.
The fourth phase, or the emergency phase, is when the state would encourage local communities to curtail or ration water consumption. In this stage, communities would be importing water from other areas. A drought emergency has never been reached in Missouri.
Counties in each phase include:
Phase 1 - Advisory Phase: Audrain, Boone, Clark, Cole, Laclede, Lewis, Marion, Miller, Moniteau, Monroe, Ralls, Randolph, Shelby, Taney, Webster, Wright.
Phase 2 - Drought Alert: Adair, Barry, Barton, Benton, Camden, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Cooper, Dade, Dallas, Greene, Hickory, Howard, Jasper, Knox, Lawrence, Macon, McDonald, Morgan, Newton, Polk, Schuyler, Scotland, Stone.
Phase 3 - Conservation Phase: Andrew, Atchison, Bates, Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Holt, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Linn, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Pettis, Platte, Putnam, Ray, St. Clair, Saline, Sullivan, Vernon, Worth.