Agriculture officials to assess Mo. drought

Gov. Jay Nixon wants federal agriculture officials to determine whether heat and drought conditions are taking a toll on Missouri's crops and livestock

The National Climatic Data Center says moderate drought conditions persist across nearly 87 percent of Missouri. And extreme drought conditions exist in southeast Missouri.

The governor says the heat and drought likely will cause crop yields to decline and put livestock under stress.

The assessment by the federal Farm Service Agency is the first step in seeking a disaster declaration.

If estimated yield losses exceed 30 percent for particular crops or farmers, counties could be eligible for a primary disaster declaration. That would make farmers eligible for emergency loans.

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