States reeling after Hurricane Matthew

Agriculture industry in Carolinas sustains significant losses during storm.

South Carolina and North Carolina continue recovery efforts after Hurricane Matthew tore through the area last weekend, killing 35 people and causing significant damage. State officials warned that flooding will continue.

“Our recovery efforts are in full swing, and we are making progress but still have a long way to go,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Oct. 12 during an update.

McCrory called the situation a “terrible tragedy” for farmers, noting that a large volume of chickens drowned and that there were also hog losses.

“Our prayers are also with the ag community. They are going through tremendous loss right now in the poultry business, hogs and also all of the farmers — the peanut farmers, the cotton farmers, sweet potato farmers. We’re going to really get a big economic loss regarding this terrible hurricane,” McCrory added.

State officials have been making arrangements for carcasses to be delivered to lined landfills.

Agricultural officials from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDOA), Clemson University, South Carolina Farm Bureau, Farm Credit and U.S. Department of Agriculture are working together to get an estimate of the scope of agricultural damage left in the wake of the hurricane.

Early estimates for South Carolina indicate a significant loss of the cotton crop and moderate loss of soybeans.

“Many farmers were able to harvest peanuts before the storm hit, but seven of 12 peanut buying points are without power, so storage could soon become an issue,” SCDOA reported. “High-value fall fruits and vegetables saw an initial harvest, but subsequent harvests will be impacted.”

The South Carolina poultry sector has reported mortalities of approximately 203,000 birds. SCDOA said many farms are still without electricity and are relying on generators to power the chicken houses.

“Farmers are facing very similar challenges to last October’s flooding, and this natural disaster will be another significant setback to our state’s number-one industry,” South Carolina agriculture commissioner Hugh Weathers said. “We are working diligently to ensure the needs of the farming community are heard in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.”

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