June 28--WARRENSBURG -- The Johnson County Farm Service Agency will prepare a damage assessment report on the effect of excessive heat and drought on crops and livestock in the county.
Kyle Meyer, Johnson County FSA executive director, said the state FSA, in response to a request from Gov. Jay Nixon, has ordered the assessment for 114 counties and the City of St. Louis.
Meyer said he will hold an emergency meeting with the Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist, Extension Ag Business Specialist Whitney Wiegel, Rural Development personnel, Soil and Water Conservation District Board Chairman Tom Haun and the county committee members "to get an accurate representation from all four corners of the county."
He said the deadline for the damage assessment report is July 6.
The northern third of Johnson County has received more rainfall and is in better shape than the rest of the county, Meyer said. "The farther south you go, the drier it gets," he said.
Meyer said he will complete the damage assessment report and forward it to the state FSA, where it "will go up the ladder to the governor," who will determine which counties to include in a disaster declaration.
The governor's request for damage assessments from the drought is the first step in the process of declaring counties as primary disaster areas.
Primary disaster areas are those that lose at least 30 percent of the estimated yield of a single crop, or where individual farmers suffer production losses of more than 30 percent.
A disaster declaration would allow eligible farmers to be considered for emergency loans from the FSA. Farmers in counties contiguous to primary disaster areas also could be eligible for assistance.
Nixon said, "The heat and drought will likely cause crop yields to decrease and livestock to be under greater stress."
He said, "Timely damage assessments by the Farm Service Agency will help those farmers who have been affected recover more quickly."
Meyer said last week's rainfall, which ranged from about 0.7 -- 1 inch across the county, helped the crops.
However, he said, continuing hot, dry weather is parching the fields again.
"The corn crop is starting to tassel and pollinate," Meyer said. "The corn needs rain now."
For some, any rain will come too late.
Meyer said one producer told him that "by the end of the week, his corn crop would be done."
He said this is the earliest he can remember ever being asked to conduct a damage assessment.
Normally, he said, assessments are conducted in late July or August.
He said producers who have crop insurance will be thankful they do this year.
Pastures also are starting to feel the effects of the drought, Meyer said.
The hay crop "on average is OK," he said. Some producers baled as much as they did last year, but some baled only half as much.
"Last year was a really poor year," but because of the mild winter, producers carried hay over, he said.
"Hay supplies are not critically low," he said, but some producers may have to start feeding hay in July instead of October or November.
"In essence, we're looking at two winter feedings," he said.
Missouri offers a hay directory for farmers who need to purchase hay. Producers who have hay to sell also are encouraged to list themselves on the directory.
The hay directory can be found through the state Web site, www.Mo.gov.
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