Gov. Jay Nixon today announced an emergency program to help Missouri farmers suffering from the statewide drought drill or deepen water wells to benefit their livestock or crops. The Governor made the announcement this afternoon at the Audrain County farm of Dan Pehle, outside Mexico.
"Missouri farmers have been hard-hit by water and hay shortages, as a result of the extreme weather conditions affecting almost the entire state of Missouri," Gov. Nixon said. "This emergency program will make it easier for farmers to drill or deepen water wells, or undertake other water distributions projects sooner, in order to care for their livestock or crops."
The emergency cost-share program will be available to Missouri livestock or crop farmers whose production is being severely impacted by the current drought. On Monday, Gov. Nixon signed an executive order authorizing the State Soil and Water Districts Commission to implement the program, which it did so yesterday by a unanimous vote. In order to qualify for the program, a proposed water project must bring immediate material benefit to crops or livestock, and not adversely affect a public water supply.
Under this emergency program, 90 percent of the eligible project cost will be covered, with a maximum cost-share award of $20,000. Normal soil and water cost-share programs provide 75 percent of the project cost, with the landowner covering the remaining 25 percent. Because of the emergency situation of the drought, applications from farmers for this cost-share program must be submitted by Aug. 6, 2012, to either the local soil and water district or online to the state of Missouri at MO.gov. The local soil and water district will act on each application within 72 hours of its receipt.
With his executive order, Gov. Nixon also established the Agriculture Water Resource Technical Review Team, to be named by the directors of the Missouri departments of agriculture and natural resources. The team will consist of staff from those two departments who have agricultural and water resource experience, and will assist in the expedited processing of applications and the implementation of the emergency cost-share program. Any completed application that is not acted upon within 72 hours by a local soil and water district will be forwarded to the Agriculture Water Resource Technical Review Team to act on the application within 72 hours.
The Governor said the emergency cost-share program would be narrowly targeted to alleviate the immediate water shortages facing Missouri agriculture. Because of the emergency nature of the drought situation and the need to put measures in place as soon as possible, any of the rules, procedures and certifications generally applicable to soil and water cost-share programs will be waived for this program.
Also on Monday, Gov. Nixon issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Missouri in response to concerns for both agriculture and public health because of the prolonged severe heat and drought. At the request of Gov. Nixon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month declared an agriculture disaster in all 114 Missouri counties, making affected farmers eligible for federal assistance for their losses.
Missouri also has a hay directory for livestock producers as well as other information and resources online at MO.gov.