Missouri drought relief program totals $29 million for farmers

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon jokes with customers of the diner at United Producers in Maryville, Mo. on July 31 2012. Nixon says his administration has already approved more than $3.2 million in state aid to get fresh water to farmers and livestock producers. As of Monday, Nixon said his administration had approved 674 applications for the program. The application deadline is Aug. 6, and a total of $7 million is available.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon jokes with customers of the diner at United Producers in Maryville, Mo. on July 31 2012. Nixon says his administration has already approved more than $3.2 million in state aid to get fresh water to farmers and livestock producers. As of Monday, Nixon said his administration had approved 674 applications for the program. The application deadline is Aug. 6, and a total of $7 million is available. Photo by The Associated Press.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri program to improve the water supplies of drought-stricken farmers could end up costing nearly 15 times the original estimate.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced a $2 million program a month ago in which the state would cover 90 percent of the cost for farmers to drill or deepen wells or expand their irrigation systems. But demand far exceeded expectations, and the governor expanded the program.

Nixon's office says 5,885 applications ultimately were approved for grants totaling about $29 million.

The money could come from several sources, including the state Soil and Water Districts Commission, rural development funds in the Department of Economic Development and emergency management funds.

Nixon's office cites a budget provision that grants flexibility for agencies to use money to offer immediate relief in emergencies.

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