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Gov. Mike Parson issues a drought alert, provides assistance to Missouri farmers

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks to clergy, elected officials and area residents about violence prevention efforts on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, while visiting north St. Louis as part of a legislative wins tour.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a drought alert Thursday for 53 counties in the state. Parson said that farms and ranches are severely impacted by extreme heat and that his administration is providing resources to help keep cattle fed and crops from dying.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a drought alert for 53 counties in the state that are experiencing dry conditions and said his administration will provide resources to help farmers and ranchers through the drought.

Parson issued the alert after reviewing the state’s drought map, which shows a severe shortage of water primarily in southern and central Missouri. The drought is affecting a large portion of the state’s cattle and crop industries.

A drought during this time of year can bring a significant amount of financial loss for farmers and ranchers across the state, Parson said.

The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources are making water available at over 40 conservation areas and over 20 state parks to help livestock producers.

“The more proactive we are, the better we can help our farmers and citizens lessen the impact of even the most severe droughts,” Parson said at a press conference Thursday.

He said that Missouri farmers already are facing high fertilizer and fuel prices, supply chain issues and rising operational costs, and that a lack of water in the middle of the summer could ruin farms.

As part of Missouri’s Drought Response Plan, Parson is assembling a drought assessment committee with state and federal agencies that will assess administrative rules and provide support to help farmers and ranchers stay afloat during the drought.

So far, the Missouri Department of Transportation is waiving certain restrictions and fees for hay haulers across the state.

Missouri is the third-largest beef-producing state in the country, and cows barely have enough to eat because of the drought, said Chris Chinn, the state’s agriculture director.

“Producers are having to make some really tough decisions, they're having to call part of their herds and send them to market,” Chinn said. “Others have already started feeding hay in July, when normally you wouldn't do that until the fall.”

Chinn encourages farmers and ranchers to reach out to state agencies to advise them of the challenges they face.

Many crops in southeast Missouri, including cotton, rice, corn and soybeans, also are affected by the extreme heat conditions.

Parson said that even with rain in the next few weeks, farmers and ranchers will feel the effects of the drought in the fall and winter.

“This is going to be an ongoing process for several months to be able to deal with this situation,” Parson said. “So, we're gonna put everything on the table that we can to make sure we're doing what we can at the state level to help our farmers and ranchers.”

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.

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