Farmers Meet to Discuss Drought Survival

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MONTGOMERY CITY - Farmers packed the Montgomery City Public Library Tuesday for a drought conference to discuss ways to help farmers survive the arid conditions and oppressive heat plaguing  Missouri since April. 

"It's the life of a farmer. You have no idea what weather will do," said Leslie Wilt, who farms corn, soybeans, and wheat in central Missouri.

Wilt said that most of his corn crop is already beyond saving.

Farmers listened intently to the speakers and lined the walls of the library. Some wore jeans, others overalls, and most sported thick leather work boots.

University of Missouri Forage Specialist Dr. Rob Kallenbach discussed dangerous nitrates in corn and ways in which farmers can safely feed their cattle. He used a corn cob to demonstrate his point to the crowd. Kallenbach's discussion prompted many questions about how to specifically shield cows from harmful feed.

Representatives from agriculture companies like Sydenstricker Implement Company and Show Me Shortline were also on hand to discuss how farmers should face diminished crop yields.

The drought conference came after the USDA granted disaster status to all 114 counties in Missouri Tuesday morning.

Missouri farmers are now eligible for disaster relief, including federal assistance and low-interest loans.

The USDA Office of Rural Development in Columbia said that in order for farmers to be eligible for disaster relief, they must suffer a 30% loss in at least one crop. In addition, they must have crop insurance and have been refused relief by banks or a farm credit system. 

Wilt said farmers without crop insurance could be in trouble.

"It's like having insurance on a vehicle. You might not ever need it, but when you need it, it's good to have."

About 50 farmers from around Missouri attended the event. Most expressed concern about how to salvage what yields they have left from the year's crops.