Counties named Natural Disaster areas

Monday, November 29, 2010

The U. S. Department of Agriculture designated 28 Missouri counties as primary agricultural natural disaster areas, making certain farmers and other agricultural producers in the counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), in addition to other disaster programs.

The following counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by drought occurring from May 1, 2010 through September 30, 2010. Those counties are: Barry, Bates, Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Dade, Dallas, Dent, Dunklin, Hickory, Howell, Laclede, Lawrence, Mississippi, New Madrid, Oregon, Pemiscot, Polk, Reynolds, Ripley, Scott, Shannon, St. Clair, Stoddard, Texas, Wayne and Webster.

Producers in contiguous counties may also be eligible for programs based on this designation. The contiguous counties are: Barton, Benton, Camden, Cass, Cedar, Christian, Crawford, Douglas, Greene, Henry, Iron, Jasper, Madison, McDonald, Newton, Ozark, Perry, Phelps, Pulaski, Stone, Vernon and Wright.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Nov. 12, 2010, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. Loans for physical losses must be used to replace or repair damage to buildings, fences or to compensate the farmer for losses of basic livestock, stored crops, or supplies on hand, equipment, etc., that was lost due to the disaster. Loans for actual losses are made at an interest rate of 3.75 percent for emergency loans to those eligible applicants who are unable to obtain the actual credit needed from another source. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. Call Farm Loan manager Amy J. Peiter at 417-967-2028 or via e-mail at for more information.

USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP); Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.

Interested farmers may contact their local FSA county office for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs or visit

Last week, the Oregon County area received some much-needed rainfall. Pastures and crop fields already look greener and healthier from the light showers. However, farm managers need to allow adequate regrowth to occur on pastures to avoid pasture damage, according to the Missouri Extension office.

After the drought is over, it is tempting to graze pastures when there is only a small amount of regrowth. Continually removing regrowth reduces root carbohydrates and inhibits the plants ability to regrow and persist.

Being patient and allowing the forage to recover from the drought stress will provide more forage for grazing in the long term. Plants should be rested until three full leaves develop for tall fescue or four fully developed leaves for orchardgrass.

Farmers may be concerned about pasture stand being thinned out due to the drought. Kentucky 31 tall fescue, which is common in many southern Missouri pastures, can withstand drought pressure and recover after the rains resume. However, stand may not recover if additional stress such as insect invasion or disease occurred. This may be the case for pastures impacted by fall armyworm or white grubs. Now is the best time to assess any pasture damage and make plans to thinken the stand.

Soil fertility also needs to be adequate to allow stressed plants to fully recover. Drought stressed plants will not recover or will recover more slowly if additional stress from low fertility is added. Pastures should be soil sampled every three to four years to determine if any nutrient deficiencies are present. Any fertilizer or limestone added should be done according to soil tests to prevent over or under applications.

For questions about reseeding thin stands, soil sampling, or to request a farm visit, contact Agronomy Specialist Sarah Kenyon at 417-778-7490 or via e-mail at

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