Thirty-nine counties across the length of Tennessee have been declared agricultural disaster areas. Governor Phil Bredesen has asked the federal government to do the same for seven more.
Last year, the state slid into “exceptional drought” thanks to a summer with virtually no rain. This year’s rainfall wasn’t enough for the already dry ground. Tennessee Agriculture Department spokesman Tom Womack says that’s done severe damage to the state’s farms. Most notable to him is the brown pasture land.
“The lack of grass and fescue that would be knee high this time of year or in late summer. Pastures that have been grazed down to the nub, down to the ground by livestock. That’s the primary thing that you notice out across the country side in some of these hard hit drought counties.”
Yields for crops like corn and soybeans are down, but livestock have been hit the hardest. With low hay stores, those farmers will have to look to out of state sources or buy more expensive grains. Altogether Womack, says millions of dollars in revenue has been lost.
With the declaration, farmers have eight months to apply for federal assistance such as emergency loans.
In Middle Tennessee, Cannon, Coffee, Smith and Wilson Counties have been declared agricultural disaster areas. Trousdale is one of the counties the governor is hoping to add to the list.