(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Nixon announces emergency assistance for farmers

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was in Springfield Tuesday to announce emergency assistance to farmers who need access to water. At the Springfield Livestock Market, Nixon outlined a plan to make more state dollars available faster to farmers. An existing cost-share program is expanding. The state will pay 90 percent of the cost of deepening or drilling wells; previously, the state had covered 75 percent of the cost.

Stop by most any unirrigated farm across the lower Midwest and you'll see crops in distress. Midwestern corn and soybean farmers are taking a beating during the recent drought, but it's not likely to drive many out of business.

Most of those farmers carry terrific insurance, and the worse the drought becomes, the more individual farmers will be paid for their lost crops. The federal government picks up most of the cost of the crop insurance program, and this year that bill is going to be a whopper.

The Drought is starting to severely impact shipping along the Mississippi River as water levels continue to drop.

The region’s shipping companies have had to lighten their loads to keep from running aground and that’s starting to cut into their bottom lines.

Veronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has called on the Missouri Soil and Water Districts Commission to allow livestock farmers to let their herds flash graze temporarily in so-called “exclusion areas.”

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt is applauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s move to designate all of Missouri’s 114 counties a disaster area.

Speaking to reporters today, Blunt said the state’s ongoing drought highlights the need for good farm policy and he would like the House to pass a final farm bill by the end of September.

(Malory Ensor/KOMU News via Flickr)

Updated with comments from McCaskill conference call.

The entire state of Missouri is now a federal agriculture disaster area.

Seventeen of the state's counties, mostly in the Bootheel, had already received that declaration. Today's announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture extends that declaration to the other 97 counties and the city of St. Louis.

With about 55 percent of the continental U.S. suffering from "moderate to extreme drought" conditions the nation is withering under conditions that haven't been this bad since 1956, according to a new report from National Climatic Data Center.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Illinois to offer programs for those affected by drought

Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois will offer an array of debt restructuring and loan programs to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. He visited a family farm in the southern Illinois area Monday, where much of the corn crop is wilting.

Quinn says the state has also launched a website to help.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Quinn to announce plan to address Illinois' drought

Gov. Pat Quinn plans  a visit to a southern Illinois farm today. The Illinois Farm Bureau says that so far, it's the sixth driest year on record. The average precipitation of the first half of the year was 12.6 inches. Much of Illinois' corn and soybean crop is suffering. Farm officials say southern Illinois is experiencing the worst of it.  Quinn is expected to detail whatever government relief may be available to drought-affected growers and ranchers.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Malory Ensor)

Dry conditions are expected to get worse in the coming days, and it will take a whole lot more than scattered thunderstorms to break the drought. 

“We’re way, way, way below normal in rainfall,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Fred Glass said.  “Most of the area is in severe drought conditions, it’s going to quite a bit of rain to make that up, probably in many areas 8-12 inches, and in some areas in excess of 12 inches.”

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Heat wave death toll rises

The death toll from the recent heat wave in St. Louis is up to 14.

The city announced yesterday that four more individuals- three men and a woman- had succumbed to the triple-digit temperatures. The exact circumstances of their deaths were not provided.

The rising death toll has prompted Mayor Francis Slay to create a coordinated severe weather response program that will include the city's health, human services, public safety and building departments.

Malory Ensor/KOMU News - via Flickr

Both of Missouri’s Senators have signed a letter asking agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to declare almost all of the state a disaster area due to drought conditions.

The federal Farm Service Agency recently found that every county except St. Louis city met the requirements for that declaration. It would open up emergency loans and expand the places where ranchers can graze their cattle.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Malory Ensor)

Gov. Jay Nixon has asked the federal government to declare 114 Missouri counties agriculture disaster areas because of drought conditions.

Nixon's office says in a release that if the counties are designated as agriculture disasters, farmers in those counties would be able to receive assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. The federal aid would also include emergency loans for losses to crops and livestock from the ongoing drought.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Early drought exacting a toll on regional corn farmers

Extreme heat and drought are driving down what many farmers expected to be a bumper corn crop.  

Back in March and April, warm weather had Midwestern farmers planting corn at a record setting pace.

In Illinois alone, an estimated more than 13 million acres of corn were planted this year.  

Now, many growers are in full on damage control as record setting heat continues to drive down expected yields.

Gov. Jay Nixon wants federal agriculture officials to determine whether heat and drought conditions are taking a toll on Missouri's crops and livestock. The National Climatic Data Center says moderate drought conditions persist across nearly 87 percent of Missouri. And extreme drought conditions exist in southeast Missouri.



This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Climatologists call it a flash drought - a sudden, unexpected burst of high temperatures and low humidity. It can wither crops in a matter of days and it's happening in many parts of the Midwest. With temperatures hovering above 90 degrees, farmers worry the weather could have disastrous consequences on corn and other crops.

From St. Louis Public Radio, Adam Allington has that story.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Mo. mountain lions are visitors, not natives

The number of mountain lion sightings in the state of Missouri is on the rise, and DNA tests show some of them are visiting from other states.

The Missouri Conservation Department confirmed 14 mountain lion sightings last year – that’s up from a total of 12 in the previous 16 years.

Record attendance for St. Louis Zoo

The first four and a half months of the year have been a record one for the St. Louis Zoo, no doubt helped by an unseasonably warm winter and spring.

Officials said Monday that more than one million people had entered the Zoo’s gates in through May 13. The Zoo expects those numbers to go higher once Sea Lion Sound opens on June 30.

A year after record floods, drought conditions in southeast Missouri

What a difference a year makes in southeastern Missouri.

Flickr/Todd Ryburn

Illinois is a "plaintiff's paradise"

The American Tort Association ranks Madison, St. Clair and McClean Counties in Ill. among the most unfair court jurisdictions in the nation. Cook County is on the watch list.

The Association is made up of businesses concerned that judges and juries in those counties are more likely to side with plaintiffs. Class action lawsuits often result in huge payouts.

Travis Akin is with the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch and says being on the list is a harmful distinction.

Credit: Pujols Family Foundation

Pujols Family Foundation to remain in St. Louis

The iconic Cardinals slugger is signing with the Angels and taking his talents to Los Angeles, raising some concerns about what will happen with the Pujols Family Foundation that benefits people with Down syndrome. But executive director Todd Perry told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch  that the foundation will remain active in St. Louis, though it could expand to include programs in the Los Angeles area. He isn't yet sure if the headquarters will remain in St. Louis.