Drought Drains Farmers
Kids at the farm showcase jumped right into agriculture. Organizers of the showcase are just as excited to show the community the facility.
"We want to show them what's going on out here. The research we're doing on plants, the research we're doing on animals, natural resources, turf, on and on. So we invited the community," said Thomas Payne, Vice Chancellor of Agriculture.
The SouthFarm continues to do new research and uses state of the art methods.
"We're not your grandpa's agriculture as it was in the past. We still do work with animals and plants to help the state's production of agriculture, but we're looking at product agriculture and new venues," he added.
But despite new techniques, SouthFarm still needs water. At SouthFarm sprinklers keep this golf green wet during dry summer months but farmers rely on rain to keep their crops alive and Governor Blunt says this year there has not been enough of it. The drought and resulting crop loss prompted Blunt to ask U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare 96 Missouri counties, including Boone, natural disaster areas.
"One of our north Missouri farms probably got a third of their normal hay crop which means they have to go hunting for other hay in the community. That comes at a premium," explained John Poehlmann of Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station.
No matter what the crops yield at SouthFarm, they're hoping to grow future farmers.
Poehlmann added, "The students that we have that become the professionals and the scientists in the future certainly are the most important product that we have."
Governor Blunt said in a press release the disaster declaration will give Missourians access to all available resources as they try to recover. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture said changes need to be made to farm policy when congress renews the farm bill next year. Mike Johanns said current policy favors a few commodity crops like corn and wheat. About 60% of U.S. farmers who grow more specialized crops get no subsidies at all. The current farm bill is set to expire in 2007.