Randolph still faces severe drought throughout most of the county and extreme drought in the southern portion. Throughout the state, the drought has continued to have adverse effects on farmers and livestock producers. 

Many assistance programs have been made available to help them through this difficult season, from opening water resources to an emergency cover crop program.

Gov. Mike Parson issued Executive Order 18-05 on July 18, which declared a drought alert for 47 Missouri counties. Every county in Missouri has been affected by dry to exceptionally dry conditions since Aug. 14, and 86 counties are now considered in drought alert.

In response to worsening drought conditions throughout the state, Parson announced the availability of water for family farms at 28 Department of Conservation areas and five Department of Natural Resources state parks last week. As much as 5,000 gallons of water may be pumped daily, per family farm. Water is available for livestock needs only and not for resale. Farmers will need to provide their own pumping and hauling equipment. Farmers who want to make arrangements to pump water can contact DNR.

Parson also announced the creation of a lottery for farmers interested in haying, free of charge,

on almost 900 acres of Missouri State Parks land. The lottery ran through last week, and results were announced yesterday. Both the lottery and the programs are for Missouri landowners only. The Departments of Natural Resources, Conservation and Agriculture and others are working together to provide information and resources to the agriculture community and towns affected by drought.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service also enacted an emergency cover crop program to assist those who have been affected by the drought last month. A total of $2 million has been made available to help farmers plant cover crops to make up for inadequate feed and forage as well as other natural resource concerns, according to NRCS State Conservationist J.R. Flores.

“We believe that seeding cover crops into pastures and cropland will at least offer our farmers and ranchers a chance of providing feed and forage over the next few months,” Flores said.

Cover crops established under this emergency initiative offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program may be grazed or hayed, which differs from existing EQIP cover crop contracts, which only allow grazing.

Farmers and livestock producers can apply still apply for the cover crop assistance at local NRCS offices until Friday. According to Public Affairs Officer of the Missouri NRCS Charlie Rahm, his office has already received over 60 applications. He said priority is given to those who are experiencing the worst of the drought, like in Randolph County.

“Anybody in the county, even the parts that are yellow (severe), would be eligible,” Rahm said.

Rahm alluded back to the 2012 drought and how adverse the impact was for Missouri farmers. He said the NCRS and other similar agencies want to help out farmers and livestock producers as much as possible.

Along with programs aimed at assisting Missouri farmers, DNR has also enacted a program in the hopes of addressing public drinking water systems that have been negatively affected by the drought.

The emergency program provides financial assistance to eligible communities experiencing the loss or potential loss of critical drinking water services or facilities. DNR will prioritize projects that address the most urgent short-term threat to safe drinking water supplies and the financial need of the applicant.

“Emergency” refers to a severe and persistent drought that disrupts normal public water system operations and requires immediate action to protect public health and safety. Funds are available for the construction, reconstruction, replacement, rehabilitation, temporary repair, temporary connection or improvement necessary to continue or restore operation of a public water system and provide safe drinking water to a system within a state designated drought alert area.

Available assistance through the program includes a $50,000 grant and up to a $100,000 low-interest loan, unless the system has bonding capacity for an increased amount and pending availability of funds. Loan repayment terms are typically ten years.

ecliburn@moberlymonitor.com