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Possible Drought Aid for Tennessee Farmers

WASHINGTON (AP/WMOT) — Legislators in Washington are considering help for drought-stricken farmers in one of their final acts before adjourning for the August recess.

The House bill, scheduled to be voted on today, would restore four disaster assistance programs that expired last year. They would be reinstated for the 2012 budget year, at an estimated cost of $383 million.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture says 20 Tennessee counties are included in the disaster declaration, with another 9 neighboring counties also eligible for assistance. Spokesman Tom Womack says the corn crop is pretty much a loss, but the state’s other farm products are doing surprisingly well.

“With the rainfall that we received in July we’ve seen a drastic improvement in the condition of our other crops - soybeans, cotton, our pastures and hayfields in some cases. But unfortunately, the damage that was done to corn – it’s too late to recover that.”

Farmers are unlikely to see any federal assistance right away. The U.S. Senate is not expected to take up its version of the disaster assistance measure before the August break begins.