The drought that has plagued the state and Faulkner County continues to rage on, with only a 30 percent chance of rain once this week, and area officials are meeting to discuss options for farmers in dealing with the lack of rain.

The North Central Arkansas Drought Conference will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7 at the Quitman High School Cafeteria. The conference will provide those who deal with livestock information on alternative water supplies, new grazing programs and other advice from county extension office members.

The intensified drought has dried up pastures and forced cattlemen to sell their herds. The conference will be the hub for livestock farmers from Faulkner, Van Buren, Stone and Cleburne counties.

The latest drought monitor released Thursday by the National Climatic Data Center shows conditions worsening for Central Arkansas.

Faulkner County, once only partially contained inside the most intensely rated drought zone, is now covered by the D4 rating which applies to areas of "exceptional" dryness.

According to the report, 33.64 percent of Arkansas is in the exceptional range, up from 3.25 percent reported earlier this month.

More than 75.94 percent of the state is in an extreme drought. All of the state is listed as severe, moderate or dry.

"We want to provide our livestock producers with tools to make the best decisions possible in these very difficult economic and climate conditions," said Danny Griffin, Van Buren County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

The conference, which will last about three hours, will include: tax advice for livestock producers facing herd reduction, 300 days grazing program which could increase drought tolerance, layout and design of grazing systems for forage utilization, alternative water supplies and feedstuff for livestock, and establishing and managing winter annuals for grazing.

The conference is free, and no registration is required. For more information on the conference, call the Faulkner County Extension Office at 329-8344.