USDA official visits Heartland, tours drought damaged crops - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

USDA official visits Heartland, tours drought damaged crops

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USDA Undersecretary Karis Gutter traveled from Washington, D.C. to the Heartland Thursday to meet with local farmers. USDA Undersecretary Karis Gutter traveled from Washington, D.C. to the Heartland Thursday to meet with local farmers.
UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) -

Drought relief for farmers now lies in the hands of congressional leaders.

USDA Undersecretary Karis Gutter traveled from Washington, D.C. to the Heartland Thursday to meet with local farmers suffering under drought conditions.

Gutter says the obstacle standing between drought relief and Heartland farmers is that five critical programs expired in 2011 and congress has yet to approve a new farm bill.

"Naturally you want relief right now," said Gutter. "I think congress will act soon. My hope is that means a new farm bill and not a plan B."

Gutter met with a beef producer in Johnson County, a corn grower in Pulaski County and specialty farmer Geraldo Jimenez, owner of Darn Hot Peppers in Cobden.

In talking with farmers and surveying livestock and crops, Gutter was able to see the damage first hand.

"I have one-third the hay I need, grain prices have sky rocketed," said beef producer Bill Stegman. "I either need to sell out or I need some assistance. In 40 years I've never said that, but I'm in serious trouble here."

House republican leaders say they expect to take up legislation next week to help farmers and beef producers hit by the drought.

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