Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has issued a drought alert in response to a drought that is significantly affecting the state, particularly in the south.

The governor said Missouri is taking several steps, including providing farmers access to water at state parks and conservation areas. State park officials also are identifying land that might be suitable for hay for farm animals.

Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said almost 75% of Missouri is in a drought, with 35% in a severe to extreme drought. The order issued Thursday is for 53 counties, most in southern Missouri.

Parson said the state also is seeking federal help for the state’s farmers.

By MARGARET STAFFORD, Associated Press