Missouri Gov. Roger Wilson has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand two earlier requests for agricultural disaster aid to include all 114 counties in the state.

Wilson asked Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman to consider declaring every county an agricultural disaster, due to adverse weather conditions that have plagued Missouri farmers and ranchers the past year, especially during the hot, dry summer months.

"Two requests for disaster aid, due to late-season drought conditions over most of the state, have been pending at the federal level," Wilson said. "The ill effects of the hot, dry summer have become even more apparent now that the harvest is complete and winter is upon us. Many farmers who had a short forage crop, because of the late-season drought, are having to feed hay supplies earlier than usual, which will be very costly for producers who are struggling to make ends meet."

Overall, farmers in many regions of the state experienced at least a 30% crop loss, because of adverse weather conditions. In addition, many areas are reporting poor pasture conditions for livestock grazing.

On Oct. 6, the late Gov. Mel Carnahan asked for federal disaster assistance for 39 counties in southwestern and west central Missouri, citing problems resulting from prolonged dry weather during critical crop growth periods. Governor Wilson followed up with a Nov. 1 agricultural disaster request for six southeastern counties.

"Although some counties may not meet the disaster eligibility criteria for the entire county, there are areas within almost every county that have suffered significant damage," Wilson said. "So, while some producers in those counties may not meet assistance eligibility, others really need help."

If granted, the disaster declaration would make farmers in each county eligible to apply for low-interest loans that could be used to restore or replace property, cover all or part of production costs this year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize farming operations and refinance debt.

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