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Knoxville — Rising fuel prices are hitting farmers where it hurts – their pockets.

Farmers who survived the drought of 1999 intact are facing severe increases in fuel prices for their tractors and other tools.

A University of Tennessee agricultural economist said the high prices come at a time of increased fuel use by farmers.

“You’re right into the season where farmers are tilling the soil and planting, which are both high uses of fuel,” said Delton Gerloff of the UT Agricultural Extension Service. “I think the initial impact is simply increased expenses.”

“Depending on who you talk to around the state, some fuel prices have almost doubled from last year at the same time.”

Gerloff estimated that the cost of fuel for agriculture in Tennessee may reach $100 million this year.

Gerloff said high fuel prices may also translate to higher food costs at the retail level.