NASHVILLE - Gov. Phil Bredesen asked the U.S. Agriculture Department on Thursday to declare all 95 Tennessee counties as federal agricultural disaster areas.
If approved, farmers who suffered crop damages as a result of last week's freezing weather would be able to apply for low-interest emergency loans.
"The early spring warm-up followed by extremely low temperatures has really created an unusual circumstance for our farmers," Bredesen said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.
"The deep freeze and record low temperatures have obviously produced heavy losses for Tennessee's farmers, especially for our fruit crops and winter wheat."
Unofficial reports indicate last week's freeze brought crop losses of as much as 50 to 100 percent for farmers of fruit, vegetables and winter wheat.
It's too early to know the extent of damage to the corn crop that might have to be replanted if the tender plants do not recover, officials said.
State Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens said it may be weeks before the state has a clear picture of the damage and can put a monetary estimate on it.
A preliminary report on the damage from the state office of the USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service should be available online by April 16.
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