WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Both
In a joint letter (below) Wednesday,
If approved, the designation would allow eligible farmers to be considered for assistance from the USDA's Farm Service Agencies, including FSA emergency loans.
On June 15, the Farm Service Agency assessed damage across the state and found that all counties met the disaster threshold of having losses of at least 30 percent of the estimated yield of a single crop -- or where individual farmers suffer production losses of more than 30 percent.
In the meantime, Secretary Vilsack announced that the Ag. Department is making a series of changes to make it easier for farmers to get disaster aid from the department.
"Finalizing the final rule on a streamlined designation process and providing immediate relief for over 1,000 counties," he told Missouri News Horizon. He also announced his agency is dropping the loan rate on emergency loans to farmers to 2.25 percent.
He says crop projections still show a large crop of corn and soybeans is possible. But Vilsack says he knows there are a lot of farmers hurting.
"We need to be cognizant of the fact that drought and adverse weather conditions have severely affected and impacted producers across the country."
As the temperatures continue to sear
the state, farmers continue to struggle. Bill Wiebold, a specialist from the
"Some of those fields, that yield is down to zero," said Wiebold. "My heart goes out to those farmers. It is a tragedy."
Wiebold said soybean farmers may be in a better spot because the beans have a better shot at surviving with less water and higher temperatures.
Complete text of Blunt and McCaskill's letter:
Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Whitten Building, Room 200A
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
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. 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.
It is our hope that you will promptly grant Governor Nixon's request to help farmers, ranchers, and rural communities recover from this severe drought. If you have any further questions regarding this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. Once again, thank you for your consideration.
Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.)
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (Mo.)