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Intense demand prompts Nixon to announce more water funding for farmers

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Malory Ensor)

More money is being put into an emergency program to aid farmers and ranchers battling water shortages in Missouri.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has added $5 million to the $2 million set aside for crop and livestock producers who want to drill new wells or deepen existing ones during the ongoing drought.  More than 600 applications have been sent in sincethe program’s announcement on Tuesday.

“Two million dollars is not enough," Nixon said.  "We felt that putting additional dollars here because of the immediate need, because of the strength of the network we have out there, because of the very good intelligence that’s coming in already from these local soil and water folks, we thought it was time to push additional dollars there.”

The program covers 90 percent of the cost of a water project and has a maximum cost-sharing cap of $20,000 per recipient.  Kelly Forck is a livestock producer from Jefferson City.

“We would like to drill a well on one of our sites, (and) we also have other sites where we’d like to extend some pipelines," Forck said.  "We have land-based watering systems where we catch rainfall, and those facilities are depleted.”

Forck says it’s too soon to say how much help the additional $5 million will be.  Farmers and ranchers have until August 6th to apply, and applications can be found on the Department of Natural Resources’ website, at dnr.mo.gov/drought-relief.  The entire state of Missouri has been declared an agricultural disaster area due to extreme heat and drought conditions.

Follow St. Louis Public Radio and Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @stlpublicradio @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.