A Missouri program to improve the water supplies of drought-stricken farmers could end up costing nearly 15 times the original estimate.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced a $2 million program a month ago in which the state would cover 90 percent of the cost for farmers to drill or deepen wells or expand their irrigation systems. But demand far exceeded expectations, and the governor expanded the program.
Brandt Dairy sits on Swan Creek at the end of a meandering gravel road in Linn, Missouri. The farm is bucolic with its twin silos, red barn and black-and-white Holstein cows. But the brown pastures, dry river bed and burnt corn fields are a reminder that there have been less than two inches of rain here in the last two months.
Thirty-five farmers and agricultural workers applauded at the site of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s big blue RV pulling up to the back of AGRI Services on Wednesday. The campaign stop at the massive granary and fertilizer distributor on the banks of the Missouri River in Brunswick, Mo. is part of the Democratic incumbent senator’s "Fighting for our Farmers" project.
Roy Pralle is an 85-year-old retired farmer from Latimer, Iowa. He spends most afternoons playing cribbage with other retired farmers at Dudley's Corner, a diner attached to a gas station in north-central Iowa.
The recent break from Missouri's oppressive summer heat has done little to help crops and pastures.
In its weekly update, the Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that supplies of topsoil and subsoil moisture were just 1 percent adequate — with the 1 percent due to irrigation in southeastern Missouri.
Ninety-eight percent of pastures throughout Missouri were ranked in poor to very condition, and livestock producers are still coping with massive shortages of stock water.