WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The unprecedented drought has led all 114 Missouri counties to officially be designated natural disaster areas.
"A farmer works hard all season long and his payday is harvest and it's very painful to sit back and watch your crops and your work wither under the sun and the dry conditions," says farmer Mike Geske, who is a member of the National Corn Growers Association.
"In just a five or six-week period, this drought has literally exploded across the US agricultural landscape and it's become certainly the most serious agricultural US drought since 1988," says USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey.
The federal farm bill, up for renewal this year, can provide help to ride out the tough times. But in this era of budget reforms, that may change.
According to some small farm operators, the funding cuts proposed in this year's farm bill reauthorization won't affect them much.
Michael Heller with Clagett Farm in Maryland says most of the federal aid favors large corporate farms, rather than small farms like the one he runs.
"It's very uneven. The farm bill and the government programs generally help the larger farmers, more than the smaller farmers. I do think that the government programs are not overall serving the highest percentage of farmers well."
Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO 4th District), who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, says the farm bill can provide some support.
"There is a very important insurance portion that is certainly going to be utilized this year by our farmers with the drought and that's why we have a safety net program like we do."
Meteorologists say the mid-summer timing of this drought could not have been worse for the growing cycle. And the timing will be tough for Congress to extend the farm bill for its September 30 deadline.
Congress is under pressure to finalize the Farm Bill before they go on recess for the month of August.
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