(KFVS) - U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has designated all 114 counties in Missouri as primary natural disaster areas. USDA announced Tuesday the designation of 97 additional counties, in addition to the 17 counties previously announced. Because it is contiguous to St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis also is included in the designation.
The disaster designation allows eligible farmers to be considered for assistance from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), including FSA emergency loans.
In addition to keeping an eye on crops and livestock, producers should document any losses or additional costs experienced as a result of weather events, including drought. That information is often required for producers to be eligible for physical and/or production loss loan assistance from the FSA, as well as other assistance programs.
Missouri also has a hay directory for livestock producers as well as other information and resources online at MO.gov.
Gov. Jay Nixon kicked off a farm tour in Ewing, Mo. on Tuesday to survey the damage done to Missouri counties due to the recent severe drought conditions. He was scheduled to also visit farms in he will visit with farmers near Tarkio and Bolivar.
He said they've been working towards getting a disaster declaration in order to help farmers.
"That's a confirmation of a challenge we face here, and I don't have to tell people in the farm community what happens when it doesn't rain, but that problem is broader for us than just the farm community here in Missouri, it covers things like water and how much we have of it out there, it covers fires and things we've seen in our national forest, so getting out here early is really important so as the summer goes on we'll be prepared to make sure this part of our economy, this backbone of Missouri's economy continues to help us more forward," said Nixon.
Previously, 32 counties had been declared as disaster areas due to the extreme conditions and damage done to crops, farms and livestock. Primary disaster areas include: Bates, Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Dunklin, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Ripley, Scott, Stoddard, Taney and Wayne Counties in Missouri. Contiguous counties that are also eligible for assistance include: Barry, Cass, Christian, Douglas, Henry, Howell, Iron, Oregon, Reynolds, St. Clair, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, Shannon, Stone and Vernon counties in Missouri.
Another threat that goes along with severe drought conditions is the increased risk of fires due to high temperatures and dry conditions.
Gov. Nixon says the state of Missouri will continue to stand behind the farmers affected by the severe drought conditions and aid in getting those farmers all the assistance they can.
The National Agriculture Statistics Service said topsoil moisture is lacking in almost all parts of the state. It said more than 90% of Missouri's livestock pastures are in poor condition, and the corn crop has gone downhill in recent days.
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel authorized all 114 counties and the City of St. Louis to be added to the list of counties eligible for emergency 24-hour approvals of low-interest Missouri Linked Deposit Program loans in response to the severe drought conditions.
The emergency process is known as the Harmed-area Emergency Loan Priority system, or HELP. Individuals applying for agriculture loans are now eligible in every county of the state and the City of St. Louis. A complete and up-to-date list of eligible counties can always be found at www.treasurer.mo.gov/LinkedDeposit. Normal loan approval time is 10 days.