(Aug. 10) California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is appealing to the federal government for disaster relief for ranchers and farmers.

The governor said high temperatures in July caused more than $1 billion in crop and livestock losses. Total agribusiness losses, he said, may not be determined for months.

Schwarzenegger sent California Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura to Washington, D.C., on Aug. 3 to meet with U. S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, members of Congress and other federal officials.

The governor wants California farmers and ranchers to have access to the type of loan program Congress made available in 2005 to Gulf Coast farmers and ranchers following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He said he’s asking federal officials to begin the disaster aid process before a total loss figure is calculated.

County agricultural commissioners throughout California are assessing damages. Schwarzenegger said the state’s beef, dairy and poultry industries were hardest hit. Hundreds of cattle and poultry died during the heat wave. But he said tomato, corn, grape, apple and plum growers statewide also suffered substantial losses.

The National Weather Service said the San Joaquin Valley endured the hottest July in recorded history with high temperatures above 100 degrees on 20 days of the month. During the hottest period, the Weather Service said Fresno, Calif.’s highs were 110 degrees or hotter for seven consecutive days.