To help Tennessee farmers who have suffered crop and livestock losses as a result of extreme drought conditions, Governor Phil Bredesen has requested a federal designation of natural disaster for agriculture for all 95 counties in the state. A designation from the United States Department of Agriculture would allow farmers to apply for low-interest emergency loans that could help them manage losses and plan for next year.
Collecting damage estimates on a county by county basis is the first step in obtaining a federal designation of natural disaster, which could take several days or weeks. Once a county is approved, eligible farmers can apply for low-interest loans and other possible assistance through their local USDA Service Center.
According to a press release from the Governor, Bredesen made the request in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.
"Tennessee farmers have been hit hard twice already this growing season with the deep freeze in April and now with one of the worst droughts on record for this time of year," said Bredesen. "It's obvious even at this early stage that crop and livestock losses will be heavy. We want to ensure that our state's farmers have access to all of the emergency assistance available to them to help them recover from this agricultural disaster."
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