Both Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback embark on tours today of their states' most drought-affected regions.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared 82 Kansas counties federal disaster areas, while the entire state of Missouri — all 114 counties — meets agricultural disaster qualifications, based on losses of at least 30 percent of the estimated crop yield. The emergency designation benefits farmers by allowing them to be considered for financial assistance from the federal Farm Service Agency.
Monday the National Climatic Data Center reported that the country is currently experiencing its widest-reaching drought since 1956, with 55 percent of the continental U.S. in moderate to extreme stages.
The central Plains states and the Ohio Valley are two of the worst-hit areas, the report said. USDA numbers show that, because of the drought, corn crops are in "poor or very poor" conditions in the top 18 corn-producing states. The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 78 percent of the state's range and pasture land is also in a "poor to very poor" situation.
Nixon will spend Tuesday visiting farmers in Lewis, Atchison and Polk Counties. Brownback will stop in Saline County Tuesday, visit Neosho and Labette Counties Wednesday and northwest Kansas next week.