In response to worsening drought conditions in the northern half of the state, Gov. Parson this week announced that the state is making provisions for family farms to use its resources to get emergency hay and water.
While south central Missouri, including Howell and surrounding counties, is not experiencing drought conditions at this time, conditions are dryer than normal in most of the area, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, viewable online at dnr.mo.gov/water/hows-water/state-water/drought. The upper half of Wright County and two-thirds of Texas County are experiencing normal conditions, as is most of northern Shannon County.
In the West Plains area, according to National Weather Service climate data, the normal amount of precipitation measured by this time of year is 22.93 inches. At this time in 2022, the area had seen 22.82 inches; this year, that amount is 22.01.
Haying has been made available at two area state parks, one of which is already under contract. The Missouri Department of Transportation has begun offering special overwidth hauling permits at no cost to help farmers and ranchers move hay.
Fifty acres of land is available for haying at Bryant Creek State Park in southern Douglas County. Contact Nick Kromrie, 417-683-2520, for more information and to schedule a time to view the haying area.
More than 85 acres of haying land is under contract at Eleven Point State Park in Oregon County. Fifteen other state parks across the state have also been made available.
In addition, 25 state parks will be open for water collection by farmers during their regular hours of operation, as will boat ramps at 36 Missouri Department of Conservation areas, though, for now, the closest such area to this region is Table Rock Lake in Taney and Stone counties.
“As drought conditions continue to deteriorate across Missouri, we want to do all we can to help our family farms mitigate the devastating effects of severe drought,” Gov. Parson said. “With the current water deficit, we know it will take a lot of rain for our state and its agricultural community to recover from the drought. While our prayers for rain continue, state government will do its part to assist wherever and whenever it can.”
Missouri state parks with haying opportunities can be located online at mostateparks.com/drought. Anyone interested in obtaining hay from these locations can contact the park superintendent to view the designated area in person. The first person who views the area and wants the hay will be issued a license to cut the hay at no cost. Guidelines and boundaries for cutting the hay on state park property will be provided at that time.
Signing a license is required before haying can begin. Missouri State Parks will allow haying on or after June 25, and hay must be removed before Sept. 25.
In addition to the contracts already in place on some conservation areas across Missouri, other opportunities to cut hay on conservation areas might be available to assist farmers in need of hay to harvest. Anyone wanting to inquire about cutting hay on conservation areas should contact their local MDC regional office. The Ozark Region office, 551 Joe Jones Blvd. in West Plains, can be reached between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays by phone, 417-256-7161.
Special hay hauling permits can be requested through the MoDOT Carrier Express online service, located at www.modot.org/mce. MoDOT permits cover movement within Missouri only and are required for each truck. Questions may be directed to MoDOT’s Motor Carrier Services office at 800-877-8499.
“These drought relief opportunities for Missouri landowners are proactive measures to help our state prepare for and respond to the effects of drought,” said Dru Buntin, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “We will continue to monitor environmental impacts to public water supplies and plan for various drought scenarios to ensure we are prepared as conditions change.”
On May 31, Gov. Parson issued an executive order declaring a drought alert for 60 Missouri counties. Continuing hot, dry weather means drought conditions are expected to further degrade heading into summer. Other counties will be added to the alert and be eligible for assistance as they reach established drought thresholds.
Residents are encouraged to assist local, state and national decision makers better understand drought conditions in their area by submitting a survey form via the Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR) service linked via dnr.mo.gov/drought.
MDC officials are also warning of the increased risk for wildfires that drought conditions can cause. For more information on how best to prevent wildfires, visit MDC's wildfire prevention website: mdc.mo.gov/your-property/fire-management/wildfire-prevention.
More information about drought conditions, agricultural resources and drinking water assistance is available at dnr.mo.gov/drought.