It's August now and the Farm Bill will expire September 30th. Without a stable, federal policy on US agriculture, farmers are going to have a difficult time planning for the future. Our colleagues at Harvest Public Media are bringing us daily updates on the political wrangling that may or may not bring us the new legislation farmers need. We'll bring you these daily updates as we get them.
Facing the prospect of heading back to angry drought-ravaged farmers and ranchers during Congress’ August Recess, House Republicans stopped work on contentious farm bill legislation and started pushing a drought assistance bill.
According to the USDA's crops progress report, which was released on Monday, in Missouri, 83 percent of the corn acreage and 72 percent of soybeans are in very poor or poor condition. Both figures are the worst for any major agricultural state. Optimism for a good corn yield is dwindling, but Southeast Missouri State University’s Michael Aide says there is still hope for soybeans.
As cattle were auctioned off at the Joplin Regional Stockyards, Governor Nixon met over coffee Monday at the stockyard’s café with local ranchers and farmers. He listened to their stories about how the emergency water cost-share program has helped them and gave them an update on the program.
Junior Roberts’ cows near Billmore, Missouri, are lucky. The grass they’re grazing on just tested negative for high levels of nitrate. But Roberts says he’s not through testing his 1,400 acres, and he knows that many farmers are selling off their herds rather than pay for alternative foods for their cattle.
“You’d be better off to sell them then to turn them in on a field where they’re gonna lay down and die,” he says. “It’s a problem if that’s all they’ve got left to eat and it’s poison. It ain’t gonna do them no good. You’re gonna lose them plum completely.”
Drought has set in early and hard across the Midwest, parching the Arkansas River basin. The river trickling out of the mountains is dry before it reaches some of the major agricultural uses downstream. And the drought is torching crops, sapping tourism and threatening supplies of drinking water.