July 26, 2012
Governor also redirects $1.5 million for cooling costs to protect Missouri families and seniors from prolonged severe heat gripping the state
Because of tremendous response, additional $5 million being put into emergency program to help drought-affected farmers, Gov. Nixon announces
JEFFERSON CITY - The tremendous response to an emergency program to help drought-affected farmers demonstrates the great need for water for livestock and crops in Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon said today. In the first two days after the Governor announced the emergency program, more than 600 Missouri farmers have submitted applications to receive assistance with drilling or deepening water wells or expanding irrigation systems. Already, 33 contracts for water projects have been approved, with an average award of $6,300.
Following the tremendous response to an emergency program to help drought-affected farmers, Gov. Jay Nixon announced on July 26, 2012 he is directing another $5 million into the program
As a result, Gov. Nixon said, he is directing 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."
"The shortages of water and hay caused by the drought have hit Missouri farmers hard, and the response we've seen to this assistance program is evidence of how bad the problem is," Gov. Nixon said. "We're putting more resources into this program, and continuing to work in other ways to help Missouri agriculture during this drought. We will stand with our livestock producers and farmers every step of the way."
The emergency cost-share program is 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 on Monday by a unanimous vote. In order to qualify for the program, a proposed water project must bring immediate material benefit to crops or livestock.
Under this emergency program, 90 percent of the eligible 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.
In addition to the water assistance program to help farmers, Missouri also has a hay directory for livestock producers as well as other information and resources online at MO.gov.
The Governor today also addressed how the heat and drought are having an effect on public health and safety, and announced additional help to protect Missouri families and seniors.
"At the same time that farmers are being hit hard, we know this extremely hot and dry weather is having an impact on public health and safety across the state," Gov. Nixon said. "We continue to battle fires in every corner of Missouri, and the heat is taking a serious toll on human lives, especially our seniors. We've seen at least 28 heat-related deaths in Missouri, and more than 900 heat-related visits to emergency departments."
To protect families and seniors, the Governor announced that he has instructed the Missouri Department of Social Services to redirect $1.5 million in LIHEAP funds to the Summer Crisis Program, which provides assistance to low-income Missourians to help pay for cooling costs. That brings the total funding for the program to $9.1 million. The $1.5 million is available because it was not spent for heating costs during the past warm winter.