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      Nixon meets with NEMO farmers on drought

      During a round table discussion Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon broke the news that all 114 counties in the state are now eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

      "We've seen the disaster declaration from the Department of Agriculture that we requested some time ago and that's confirmation of the challenge we face here," Nixon said.

      Low interest loans and other assistance will help farmers recover from big losses on their drought-stricken farms. But it's the crop insurance that many farmers are looking to.

      "It'd be almost impossible to survive without it when you get into a crop situation like this," Earl Kempe, a Lewistown farmer said.

      From July 2011 to July 2012, the Tri-State region has fallen under moderate to severe drought status and there's no end in sight. A tour of the hardest hit areas began at the Sharpe Family farm in Ewing and the Kempe farm in Lewistown.

      "Our corn crop is pretty much devastated here. It's not going to make much at all. Now we're worrying about the bean crop, because it'll hold up longer but only so long," Kempe said.

      During a time when farmers struggle to keep their crops alive, Governor Nixon said he's working to keep demand of Missouri agricultural products up internationally. But the drought has caused concern with the state's newest farmers and their commitment to the agriculture community.

      "We understand how important the agriculture community is to our state and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure this dry year has the least economic effect, long-term as possible," Nixon said.

      The National Agriculture Statistics Service says topsoil moisture is short in almost all parts of the state and creeks and streams are running dry. It says the condition of the state's corn crop has declined significantly in recent days, and more than 90 percent of the state's livestock pastures are now in poor condition.

      Ten counties in Southeast Iowa, including Van Buren and Lee counties are also part of the USDA disaster declaration due to the drought.