February 27, 2003

Twenty-nine Missouri Counties Receive Disaster Designations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 29 Missouri counties as disasters due to drought. In addition, 13 counties were named contiguous disaster counties because they are adjacent to one or more of the 29 counties.

According to Lowell Mohler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, these disaster designations make producers in those counties eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans that can be used to restore or replace property, cover all or part of production costs, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize farming operations and refinance debt.

Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency for additional information.

The eligible counties are: Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Barton, Bates, Benton, Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Chariton, Clay, Clinton, Dade, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Holt, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Mercer, Nodaway, Pettis, Platte, Polk, Putnam, Ray, St. Clair, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Sullivan, Vernon and Worth.

Drought has gripped the northern and western portions of the state since last summer. Governor Bob Holden asked for the disaster designations in September to help Missouri farmers whose corn yields last year were down by 28 bushels per acre or 21 percent from 2001. The soybean crop was off four bushels per acre or 11 percent from the year before.

A recent state report estimated crop and livestock loss in 2002 at $251 million because of the drought, Mohler said. The additional impact to the economy because of the multiplier effect, meaning reduced spending and

economic activity stemming from the agricultural loss, accounted for a $209 million shortfall.

"The drought continues to plague our state, especially northwest Missouri, and has already caused more than $460 million in economic loss to producers and the state's economy," Mohler said. "That's a hardship no farmer should have to bear without some assistance."

The U.S. Drought Monitor continues to show northwest Missouri in an extreme drought, with surrounding areas ranging from severe drought to abnormally dry. Only southeast Missouri has been spared from drought-like conditions.

"We must get some significant rainfall this spring or the planting season and perhaps some of our public drinking water supplies will be in jeopardy," Mohler said.

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