Drought Poses Problems For Farmers Next Year

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COLUMBIA - The federal government made new loans available Friday for farmers affected by this year's severe weather. Many farmer report a decrease in crop production this season. Farmers in western Missouri affected by storms in late August are eligible for emergency loans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated seven counties as primary disaster areas. Farmers in these counties suffered crop losses of at least 30 percent this season. Farmers may be elligible if they are in Andrew, Atchison, Gentry, Lafayette, Nodaway, Pettis or Platte counties.

The USDA classified an additional 101 counties as natural disaster areas due to drought in Oct. Farmers suffered a loss of both soybean and corn yields.

"Missouri has more than 5 million acres of soybeans...it [the total loss] adds up to about $300 million," said Mike Collins, director of plant sciences at MU's College of Agricultre, Food and Natural Resources.

Randy Miles, a MU soil scientist, predicted that this drought will affect next year's crops as well.

"We'll need extraorinarily persistent rains for the moisture to get down five feet where the roots of mature plants live. It could take many weeks and months for water entering the soil surface to move to the 3-5 feet depth of the soil profile," said Miles.

Miles estimates that Missouri will need 16-18 inches of rain in order to yield a better crop for next year.