More water, faster for farmers under state drought measures

Jul 24, 2012

As the dry conditions and excessive heat continue to bear down on Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon was in Springfield Tuesday to announce emergency assistance for farmers who need access to water.

At the Springfield Livestock Market, Governor Jay Nixon outlined a plan to make more state dollars available faster to farmers who need access to water. 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. In addition, Nixon says applications for the program will get turned around in 72 hours, even over the weekend.

“We want to move those dollars out more quickly this year and we want to move them out to livestock and dairy producers who are in dire need right now of additional assets to get their water,” he said.

There’s $2 million designated for the program, but Nixon says if demand from farmers exceeds that amount, the state will consider setting aside more. At this point, Nixon said he could not give an estimate as to how many farmers will benefit from the program.

Before the press conference, the governor sat down in a café at the Springfield Livestock Market and visited with farmers. The president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Lonny Duckworth was there. He says this summer has brought one of the most severe droughts he’s ever seen.

“It’s rivaling 1980,” he said. “Eighty was a very bad year. In some instances, this might be worse than 80. It’s more widespread. It’s not only affecting us here in Missouri, but it’s effecting us all over the Midwest.”

Because the emergency program is designed to meet immediate needs for water, Nixon says farmers have only two weeks to apply.