Topeka — Gov. Bill Graves is pushing the federal government to provide emergency aid to farmers struggling because of drought conditions in much of the state.
Graves wrote letters Friday to President Bush and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. Among other things, he asked them to declare 43 Kansas counties disaster areas, making farmers eligible for low-interest loans.
"I have postponed asking for your assistance hoping that it would rain," Graves wrote to Bush. "Unfortunately, it has not rained, and we are quickly moving from bad to worse."
Earlier, the governor requested drought disaster declarations for the counties but has not heard back from the federal government.
The governor also scheduled a Statehouse news conference for 11 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the drought, which has hit western Kansas the hardest. In its latest crop report, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Services said 51 percent of the state's top soil and 44 percent of its subsoil is very short of moisture. In southwest Kansas, the figures are 87 percent and 94 percent.
Farmers were expected this year to harvest 272 million bushels of wheat, 17 percent less than last year. Farmers planted 8 million acres of wheat, the lowest total since 1957.
"This spring, in many places, it was too dry to plant fall crops," Graves wrote. "Where they were planted, they are now burning up."
In asking for a disaster declaration, Graves said such a step "is not enough."
"Many Kansas farmers and ranchers simply will not survive without immediate financial assistance," Graves wrote.