(The Center Square) – Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson extended an executive order empowering a drought assessment committee as 85 of the state’s 114 counties are experiencing moderate, severe or extreme drought conditions.
Parson signed the initial order on May 31 and it activated Missouri’s Drought Mitigation and Response Plan. At that time, all or portions of 60 Missouri counties were experiencing moderate, severe or extreme drought conditions.
The original order was set to expire on Dec. 1 but was extended until May 1, 2024. The order allows Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources to assess drought levels and work with members of the drought assessment committee in developing and executive response and recovery recommendations.
“Having to issue a drought alert this spring was quite unprecedented, and unfortunately, drought has persisted in Missouri,” Parson said in a statement. “While we’ve had periods of marginal improvement, farmers and ranchers are still feeling the impacts, many forced to sell livestock early and scrambling for alternative feed sources.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor reported farmers harvested 95% of the U.S. soybean crop by Nov. 12 and 88% of the nation’s corn was harvested by that date.
“However, soil moisture shortages remained a concern for some fall-sown crops, including winter wheat and cover crops,” the report said. “On Nov. 12, topsoil moisture was rated more than one-half very short to short in Iowa (58%) and Missouri (53%), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
Parson said low river levels are affecting grain shipments.
“Some of the most impacted areas are our waterways, slowing barge and river port activity during our busy harvest season,” Parson said. “We’re extending this alert to continue providing every resource possible to help mitigate the impacts and in hopes that we get plenty of rain throughout the coming winter and spring.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor estimated 4.2 million of Missouri’s population of approximately 6 million are living in areas affected by drought. In its weekly report published last week, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources estimated 83% of the state was experiencing drought conditions.