Gov. Jay Nixon today visited the Joplin Regional Stockyards to update livestock producers and farmers on the emergency cost-share program the Governor's administration launched last week.
In response to the historic heat and drought across Missouri, Gov. Nixon made available $7 million to help livestock producers and farmers drill or deepen wells or expand irrigation systems. As of Monday morning, the program has approved 490 contracts for projects, totaling more than $2.1 million in assistance to producers and farmers. Gov. Nixon reminded producers and farmers that the deadline to apply for the program is Monday, Aug. 6.
"Livestock producers across Missouri have been hit hard by this historic period of heat and drought, and this emergency assistance is making a real difference for our farm families," Gov. Nixon said. "We will continue to work closely with local soil and water district boards to approve these applications and keep this vital assistance moving. I encourage producers and farmers who need access to water to submit their applications by Monday, Aug. 6."
Examples of approved projects include:
- Mike, Judy and Gale Turner own 150 head of cattle in Newton County. In past years, they have watered their cattle with three ponds and a spring on their farm. Because of the prolonged drought this year, their spring has gone dry; two ponds are dry; and the remaining pond has only inches of water remaining. The emergency program will help the Turner family install a new well, distribution line and tank for a total cost of $9,687.
- Terry Collins has 90 head of cattle in Texas County. In past years, he has watered his cattle on springs and ponds on his property, as well as on Beaver Creek, which flows through his farm. His springs have stopped flowing; his ponds are nearly exhausted; and Beaver Creek has gone dry. Collins was concerned he would be forced to sell some of his cattle within the next week. The emergency program is providing a new well and distribution for a total cost of $11,079, and the well driller was on site Friday.
- Scott Wagner has 85 head of cattle and 92,000 broilers on his farm in Newton County. His farm had operated two wells, one for the cattle operation and the other for the broilers. His cattle well has gone dry, and the broiler well cannot support both operations. The emergency program is helping construct a new well and distribution system for a total cost of $7,585.
- Walter Garfield raises soybeans and corn in Barton County. He has lowered his pump as far as possible, but it is surging and running out of water. His crops need at least several more weeks of irrigation to be successful. The emergency program is providing a new irrigation well for a total cost of $20,000.
- Mike Taylor has 400 head of cattle in Ray County. His ponds went dry for the first time ever this year. Taylor says the emergency program will help avoid the need to sell off part of his herd. The program is providing a new tank and pipeline for a total cost of $2,233.
- Kasey Hunt has 1,200 head of cattle in Ripley County. His ponds have gone dry and his existing well and tanks cannot support his large operation. The emergency program is providing a new water line and two tanks for a total cost of $8,244.
The emergency cost-share program is available to Missouri livestock or crop farmers whose production is being severely impacted by the current drought. Gov. Nixon signed an executive order last Monday (July 23) authorizing the State Soil and Water Districts Commission to implement the program, which it did by a unanimous vote on the same day. In order to qualify for the program, a proposed water project must bring immediate material benefit to crops or livestock. To get the program up and running, the State Soil and Water Districts Commission also provided an initial outlay of $2 million in state reserve funds to provide the grants.
Because of tremendous demand, Gov. Nixon announced on Thursday that he had directed another $5 million into the program to supplement the initial $2 million dedicated from the State Soil and Water Reserve Fund. House Bill 8 provides the Governor the authority to direct funds for "responding during a declared emergency at the direction of the Governor, provided the services furnish immediate aid and relief."
Under this emergency program, 90 percent of the eligible water project cost will be covered. 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.
With his executive order, Gov. Nixon also established the Agriculture Water Resource Technical Review Team. The team consists of staff from the Missouri departments of agriculture and natural resources who have agricultural and water resource experience; they are assisting in the expedited processing of applications and the implementation of the emergency cost-share program. The team also will ensure accountability to taxpayers and that the projects awarded do not adversely affect public water supplies.
The Governor said the emergency cost-share program is 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 are being waived for this program.