Tri-State farmers on drought: What do we do now?

A new report shows the drought gripping the United States is the widest since 1956.


Illinois Farm Bureau

says it's the sixth driest year on record so far. The average precipitation of the first half of the year was 12.6 inches. Governor Pat Quinn says the state will help farmers affected by drought. The state will offer an array of debt restructuring and loan programs to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. Quinn says the state has also launched a website to help. It's

While the southern portions of the state are hardest hit, the lack of rain is the same story in Adams County.

More than 50 farmers attended a meeting at the

University of Illinois Extension

office in Quincy, Monday, to discuss what they can do with their dried out corn crop. Much of Illinois' corn and soybean crop is suffering.

"We'll be talking to livestock producers about how to utilize this drought ravaged corn for livestock feeds. Most of them have very little in the way of hay, available to feed, and many of them are starting to feed hay already in July, before winter comes. So that's a bad thing to not have hay in the winter and there's a lot of corn that could feed," Mike Roegge, with the U of I Extension in Adams County said.

If you missed Monday's drought meeting, farmers and ranchers have two more chances to learn about their options: Thursday in Carthage and Friday in Mt. Sterling, both at the extension offices in town at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, Missouri agriculture officials are using social media to share information about this summer's lack of rain, extreme heat and wildfires.

The University of Missouri Extension is encouraging people and groups to post on a

Facebook page

devoted to the drought. It's the latest effort to use Facebook to respond to disasters.

Facebook pages also were set up after last year's flooding and the tornados in Joplin and Branson.

Extension officials have a guide for using social media to respond to disasters. It's been downloaded and printed over 10,000 times, used at FEMA trainings, and even distributed to county emergency management personnel in some states.