North Carolina Farmers Face Devastating Losses After Hurricane Matthew
State agriculture officials are trying to reach farmers in eastern North Carolina that are dealing with flooding from Hurricane Matthew. Rivers are expected to crest over the weekend, making matters worse in some areas.
Environmental groups want to avoid the problems that occurred after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. That’s when bloated hogs and chicken carcasses floated in floodwaters for days, prompting public health concerns.
Brian Long, with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says the roads leading to the farms are under water, and power outages are making the problems even worse.
“How do we get feed, water, and fuel to those farms? That’s something we are focusing on,” says Long. “The other aspect is – on farms where there has been a loss of animal life – is properly and safely disposing of those animals.”
Long says he’s not sure how many animals have died so far, but environmental groups estimate millions of birds have been lost.
“We have plans in place to deal with lost poultry after working on preparations for the avian flu last year,” says Long.
State officials say many of the carcasses will be composted on site, while the remaining ones will be sent to lined municipal landfills.
The flooding is also impacting crops in the eastern part of the state.
“There are a lot of crops underwater. Cotton, soybeans, sweet potatoes, peanuts... but we’ve heard reports of damaged pumpkin patches, even prep work for strawberries, so we think about this year’s crop but who knows? There may be an impact on next year’s crops as well,” says Long.
Some of these farms were hit with significant rainfall around the same time last year from remnants of storms like Hurricane Joaquin.
“For many farmers two straight years of being hammered at the harvest time, the time of year you work so hard to get to, and that’s what’s really sad about it,” says Long.
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