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      Nixon declares disaster from drought, heat

      Governor Jay Nixon has declared a statewide agriculture disaster opening the door for aid to drought-stricken farmers in Missouri. Nixon traveled to Audrain County Tuesday afternoon to announce an emergency program to help farmers drill deeper wells.H oward Pehle, Audrain County Farmer, ??It is probably one of the worst years i can remember in my entire lifetime." Pehle said water is a hot commodity on his fifth generation, 3,000 acre farm. Tuesday, Governor Nixon was in Audrain County to survey the drought for himself, "Under my order, my cost share program is designed specifically to help farmers and producers who are facing severe water challenges because of the drought, to provide immediate and substantial relief from those challenges and move the resources to our farmers as quickly as possible." Farmers said the conditions are ripe for state help, "It relieves some of the financial stress as well as mental stress on farmers is needed and it is much appreciated by anybody who is in the agriculture field that is for sure." Pehle said. He said they haven't seen rain since early May. His irrigation pond is proof, "But the big problem we have is getting the pump out to the water. So this particular program, if we can qualify for some pipe where we can set the pump on the bank and run the pipe out to the water in the middle, that would really help us...it's a fast band aid to help us get that water out of there that is music to our ears." Farmers can apply directly to local Soil and Water Districts or through the state's homepage. MO.gov. To be eligible, the project has to provide immediate relief from the drought. Applications must be submitted within the next 14 days and projects have to be completed within the next 60 days. The state will cover 90 percent of the project cost, the farmer pays ten percent. The maximum grant will be $20,000.Update: 10:00pm 7-24-2012

      JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared an emergency because of the recent drought.

      The state disaster declaration Monday allows state agencies to help local officials respond to the drought and heat. Nixon says state health officials have confirmed 25 heat-related deaths, including 20 in the St. Louis area.

      Health officials report that there have been 829 heat-related trips to hospital emergency rooms.

      Nixon says farmers also are facing significant losses to crop and livestock and fire remains a risk. He says state officials are monitoring how the drought is affecting public water supplies.