Missouri is experiencing one of its worst droughts in decades, and state officials are implementing some emergency measures to help ease the pain.
Gov. Mike Parson, three of his Cabinet members, and a group of agriculture leaders announced Monday that farmers and ranchers can now get hay and water from several state-owned properties.
They’ll be allowed to access water from 28 state conservation areas and five state parks, located primarily in the northern half of Missouri. And a lottery will be conducted in which those selected will be allowed to harvest hay on nearly 900 acres of state park land.
Parson admitted it’s not a cure-all for everyone’s problems.
“We’re still going to be short on fall pasture in the cattle industry, row crops are still out there – they’re going to have to figure out how that weather situation affects them,” he said. “This is a long way from being over yet – [today‘s announcement] was about just trying to help.”
Ninety-eight percent of the state is experiencing drought, with the most extreme conditions in northwestern and north central Missouri.
“We have some farmers who are hauling hay in from other states, while other farmers are culling their cattle herds,” said Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn. “Some farmers quite simply are just selling what they can to try and pay the bills every month – it’s a serious situation.”
Livestock owners needing water will be allowed to pump up to 5,000 gallons a day for their family-owned farms, and they have to bring their own equipment. It’s limited to Missouri residents only, and re-selling of the water is prohibited.
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