About a quarter of Missouri started the year in a drought, and conditions across the state have only gotten worse since.
That has led to action from Gov. Mike Parson, and it’s cause for growing concern among the state’s cattle producers, who are selling off livestock amid worries about hay and water supply.
Parson signed an executive order Wednesday declaring a drought in 47 counties. Northwest Missouri is especially dry, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map. Forecasts for the next three months suggest the drought could get worse, according to Bryan Peake of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.
The state had a shortened hay-growing season due to a cold winter followed by unseasonably hot temperatures this spring and early summer. That has taken a toll on cattle producers, who are relying on reserve hay supplies months before they normally would.
Those conditions, coupled with herds being “ramped up” because of high profit margins in recent years, are leading some of the state’s cattle producers to cull their herds.
Read more: St. Louis Public Radio