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North Carolina counts losses following Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence. Photo Courtesy of United States Department of Defense (DOD)

North Carolina officials are taking damages into account, following Hurricane Florence. A farm leader outlines the natural disaster and its impacts below.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) reports 5,500 hogs and 3.4 million poultry have perished, as the result of Hurricane Florence. The recent losses exceed those recorded during the state’s last major hurricane two years ago.

North Carolina Farm Bureau president Larry Wooten says having previously endured a hurricane does not make the next hurricane any easier.

“This hurricane could not have come at a worse time for North Carolina agriculture, particularly (for) our producers/farmers down in eastern North Carolina,” Wooten said. “We’re in the middle of tobacco harvest. Almost 100-percent of our potatoes are still in the field, and 50-percent of the corn, 100-percent of the peanuts and 100-percent of the cotton. It just couldn’t come at a worse time. I’ve been out looking. Some of the crops may come back okay, but it’s going to be disastrous for us.”

Wooten says farmers worked hard to prepare for the storm. However, strong winds and excessive rains found a way to disrupt small and large operations.

“The rains, the winds have created real problems in some areas, but the real culprit is going to be the floods,” Wooten said. “Excessive flooding covered roads, where you can’t get to crops and livestock. Our hog farmers, in particular, have been on top of this storm: Pumping down lagoons, getting extra feed, extra generators and making sure animals were ready. We were prepared, but that still doesn’t make it any easier.”

Flooded roadways proceed to present many logistical challenges. About 30 independent farms, supplying birds to Sanderson Farms, are isolated by floodwaters and unreachable. Farmers are unable to deliver feed to roughly 6 million birds, as a result.