The Missouri Department of Agriculture director is urging farmers to postpone burning on their farms until the dry, windy weather has passed.

John L. Saunders said he has received calls from fire officials, especially those in northwest Missouri, who are using up all of their resources to fight brush and grass fires that have spread out of control.

"Despite some recent rains throughout the state, dry conditions prevail," said Saunders. "The entire state is just coming off of a summer drought, so pastures are very dry. Add spring's high winds to the mix, and you could have trouble when burning brush and grasslands."

Saunders said unnecessary brush fires could cause fire districts to impose burning bans, especially in smaller, rural communities.

"If a fire district uses all of its funding and resources putting out brush fires, the community could be at risk in the event of a major fire," Saunders said.

He also encouraged farmers whose conservation plans allow them to burn off crop acres planted in grass as part of the federal Conservation Reserve Program to contact their local U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Center first. Burning of CRP acres is not allowed, unless part of a conservation plan, and then the USDA has guidelines that should be followed, Saunders said.

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