July 19, 2012

Governor Requests Agriculture Disaster Designation For State

JEFFERSON CITY - On July 10th, Governor Jay Nixon requested that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack designate 114 counties in Missouri as primary agricultural disaster areas. The designation would permit assistance from the USDA's Farm Service Agency to farmers in those counties that have suffered losses to crops and livestock as a result of the ongoing drought throughout the state.

On June 25, the governor requested that the Farm Service Agency assess agricultural damage across the state due to the ongoing extremely dry conditions. The assessment found that 114 Missouri counties meet the disaster threshold of having losses of at least 30 percent of the estimated yield of a single crop or where individual farmers suffer productions losses of more than 30 percent.

"Agriculture is the backbone of Missouri's economy, and our farmers are facing extremely difficult conditions because of record heat and low precipitation," Gov. Nixon said. "Our farmers and producers need additional support to help them through these challenges, including the financial assistance that becomes available if this request is granted by Secretary Vilsack."

A disaster designation would allow eligible farmers to be considered for assistance from the USDA's Farm Service Agency, including FSA emergency loans.

State Senator Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, supported the governor's request.

"This request is important for Missouri's agricultural industry, because - once granted - it would allow our farmers and ranchers to begin to process any crop insurance damage claims for which they may be eligible," Sen. Munzlinger said. "Crop insurance has in the past been a key component to the Federal Farm Bill, and we expect it to continue to aid those in our state's no. 1 industry. Missouri's already struggling economy will deeply feel the impact of a disaster this large."

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill of Missouri sent a letter on July 11th to the USDA urging Secretary Vilsack to move forward with the governor's request.

"Agriculture is a primary driver of Missouri's economy, and it is important that we provide the support our producers need as they suffer significant losses to crops, pasture, and livestock as a result of the record breaking heat and low precipitation," the Senators wrote. "A disaster designation would give eligible producers in Missouri the additional support they need by allowing them to qualify for FSA emergency loans, emergency grazing and haying, and other financial assistance."

In the letter, the senators encourage Secretary Vilsack to quickly move forward with Governor Nixon's request to help farmers, ranchers, and rural communities recover from this severe drought.

"Please pray for rain, and also for our farmers and their families, as they continue to try to feed the world, as well as for our elected officials as they look for ways to deal with yet another cruel blow from Mother Nature," Senator Munzlinger said.

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