USDA awards Missouri, Illinois farming relief funds
By Kevin Lavery, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – The money is meant to help farmers restore their conservation practices after a natural disaster.
In Missouri, that means cleaning up after a wild spring.
In March, a rash of tornadoes pummeled much of the state, littering farms with debris.
Missouri's $1.6 million allocation is the third highest among the 18 states getting help.
Missouri Farm Service Agency executive director Tim Kelley says the storms came earlier than expected.
"It shows the devastation that we incurred in Missouri because we were so hard hit with a record number of tornadoes, and those tornadoes seemed to stay on the ground a little bit longer," Kelley said.
A severe drought hit much of southern Illinois last year, producing below normal crop yields. Many area counties are still dry this year.
Illinois will get just $12,000 of the nearly $12 million distributed to 18 states.
Illinois Farm Bureau spokesman John Hawkins says that's because rain did help a lot of farmers.
"Most farmers really escaped a bullet last year," Hawkins said. "There were
some that were very hard-hit and we feel for them...but overall, we were extremely surprised at how well Illinois fared despite the bad weather."