The latest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows what Missouri residents already know. Nearly 93 percent of the state in extreme drought conditions. Just three months ago, only 16 percent of the state was listed as "abnormally dry" while the rest of Missouri was normal or better on rain. Effects of the drought continue to be numerous.
* The entire state of Missouri is in a "severe" drought or worse. The only part of Missouri in the "severe" category is the extreme northwestern corner, where all or part of 14 counties are severe. That designation is slightly more than 7 percent of Missouri.
* The worst drought designation is "exceptional." Extreme southeast Missouri, in the fertile Bootheel area, contains all or part of 11 counties under the worst drought conditions. In the spring of 2012, that area of the state was suffering from record flooding due to heavy spring rains. The Birds Point levee was detonated to relieve pressure on the Mississippi River, flooding New Madrid County.
* Gov. Jay Nixon announced Wednesday the Small Business Administration (SBA) is making low-interest loans to nonfarm businesses affected by the drought. Businesses such as landscapers, lawn mowers, irrigation operators, pesticide sprayers, and other businesses affected by the drought can get up to $2 million in loans.
* Loans can go towards covering business losses and financial obligations. The disaster assistance covers businesses that would not have seen losses had the extreme drought not occurred.
* The deadline for applying for these nonfarm loans is March 18.
* KFVS interviewed farmers in the Bootheel region. The only crops surviving are those that have been irrigated. All other crops are completely dried up.
* Sam Atwell, with the University of Missouri Extension in New Madrid County, told the television station this drought is truly extreme. "It's the worst I've experienced in my 40 some years.... We're like desert conditions [and] have been watering from the get go."
* Some areas of southeast Missouri were touted as the worst in the nation. A few parts of the Bootheel have seen less than an inch of rain the entire calendar year.
* The Associated Press reports half of America's corn crop is rated poor or very poor. Up to 37 percent of soybeans are also in those categories. Both crops are vital to Missouri's agriculture industry.
* Despite scattered rain and storms over the past week, Reuters reports there is little relief from the drought. Crop losses will continue to mount and cattle herds continue to be sold. Eventually, prices of agricultural goods will rise.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.