After a slight respite, heat returned to Missouri’s countryside, and although there’s a lot of brown in Harry Cope’s plot of forage and cover crops, a neighbor offered a compliment that the field was much greener than what the neighbor had.
The neighbor was among the couple of dozen area farmers and Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel that came to meet their Washington Chief, Dave White.
White, endearing himself to the group by pointing out that he’s a graduate of the University of Missouri, observes that there is a lot of devastation in the area he visited Wednesday. [More Photos ]
“It’s not good,” said White, after a look at a struggling cover crop on Cope’s farm near Truxton, Missouri, about 75 miles northwest of Downtown St. Louis.
White heard concerns and suggestions from Missouri farmers about what they’re going through and about federal drought assistance programs.
Cope dug with the handle of his pliers, hoping to reach some sign of moisture in the parched soil. He hopes to grow at least some feed on which his lambs can graze this fall.
“We’re approaching deadlines that we really can’t fix much,” Cope told Brownfield Ag News, referring to the point on the calendar when if it still hasn’t rained, he’d be hard pressed to get a crop in the ground and expect enough growth to feed grazing livestock before a frost. “Then we get into a situation, what are we going to do, are we going to buy feed or are we going to sell animals? We just have to make that call when it happens.”
What White was able to take away from the conversation with Missouri farmers is that the drought has resulted in a greater need for flexibility in government programs, “and NRCS is certainly going to do its part to be as amenable as possible to flexibility,” said White.
Beyond government visits to affected fields, beyond conversations about government programs and money, White told Brownfield Ag News that it’s important to remember the drought’s impact on human beings.
“We can talk about D3, D4 droughts, we can talk about programs, but we ought not to forget that there are real men and real women, and the men and women who produce our food and fiber, a lot of them are under a lot of stress here,” said White, “and we ought not to forget about them.”
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