MODOT, Federal Government Help Farmers with Livestock

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COLUMBIA - Missouri farmers are getting a helping hand from both MoDOT and the U.S. government Monday during this summer's drought. MoDOT announced it would waive the $64 fee for blanket oversize permits to haul wide loads of hay. The waiver allows for movement of wider loads, fee-free, through Dec. 31 of this year.

The fee is waived through the end of the year on loads up to 12-feet, 4-inches-wide, that are of legal height, length and weight. The special permit also allows farmers to move hay overnight, on weekends and holidays, all practices which were not previously allowed. This change is aimed at helping farmers feed their livestock when grazing is limited because of the dry conditions.

The permit mandates farmers use a reflective, over-sized load sign and clearance lights instead of flags during poor visibility conditions or when driving hay at night. To register for the special permit, farmers can call MoDOT's Motor Carrier Services office (1-800-877-8499).

Farmers raising cattle also can get help paying to acquire water for their livestock thanks to the U.S. government. Callaway County farmers are officially qualified to apply for and receive federal aid through the USDA's Emergency Conservation Program. The program is meant to help farmers conserve water in periods of severe drought.

Callaway County farmers qualify because the county has been designated a D3, or extreme drought, zone on the USDA's Drought Monitor. Counties not designated D3 Extreme Drought can also qualify for the program if they have a 40% shortage of rainfall in comparison for the year.

If farmers want to apply, they must have documentation of at least $2,500 in spending for an approved project to get water to livestock. Approved projects include drilling a well, extensive piping from a well or a water district line. The federal program will not provide funding to install a new meter on a water district line, or to clean or excavate a pond.

Farmers interested in the program should call their local Farm Services Agency office for more information.