JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri farmers face lost crops and are reducing cattle herds that lack forage and water as the drought deepens across the Midwest. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken a number of steps to help farmers and Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst reiterated the need for creative ways to continue helping those suffering crop and livestock losses.
“Your decision to simplify the process for making Secretarial disaster designations, lower interest rates on emergency loans administered by the Farm Service Agency, and provide more flexibility with regard to haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acreage was welcome news last week,” said Hurst in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Farmers also saw prompt attention given to the state’s disaster designation request allowing access to the emergency loan program.
In the letter, Hurst suggested other ways to mitigate the drought’s effect on farmers and ranchers through additional USDA actions such as: utilizing the Emergency Conservation Program to help with livestock watering needs; taking steps to expedite crop insurance claims processing, accelerating distribution of 2012 crop year direct payments; expediting the federal Emergency Loan Program approval process; and allowing more flexibility in the use of Conservation Reserve Program acres.
Federal disaster assistance programs lapsed last fall, but there is an opportunity to reinstate the non-program crop programs as part of a new farm bill. Missouri Farm Bureau, along with Secretary Vilsack, continues to urge Congress to approve the legislation as soon as possible.