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      Governor Jay Nixon seeks to open reserve lands for grazing

      The brutal heat and dry conditions have been devastating for livestock producers. This has led Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to request that reserve lands be made available for grazing. Nixon has asked Dr. Jon Hagler, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, to request that the USDA Farm Service Agency open Conservation Reserve Program lands in counties meeting requirements for shortages of hay/forage and precipitation.

      Chad Triplett, partner in Triplett Brothers Farms, said it is essential that the government act quickly to open up the conservation land. He said the recent excessive heat and lack of rain has caused most of the grass in his pastures to die off a month ahead of schedule.

      "Time is of the essence on that," said Triplett. "From my point of view, a lot of times we've done it in the past and it's been too late and it's burn up and it's pretty hard to get a cow to eat something that's not nutritional for her. She won't do it."

      Triplett said if we do not get rain this week, he will soon have to resort to supplemental food, such as hay to feed his cattle. He said he usually does not have to do this until the winter months.

      If the United States Department of Agriculture fulfills the request, counties that have 40 percent shortage of hay, forage and precipitation will have their conservation land opened for grazing. Approximately 1.4 million acres of Missouri land are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. In a recent USDA weekly progress report, 58 percent of Missouri's pastures were rated as poor or very poor. The state is also 48 percent short or very short on hay supplies.