N.C. hog farmers make final preparations in advance of Hurricane Florence

Farmers have taken measures to protect livestock, manage lagoon levels in anticipation of impacts

Hog farmers across Eastern North Carolina are making final preparations for the forecast arrival of Hurricane Florence. Farmers have taken precautions to protect animals, manage lagoons and prepare for power outages that are anticipated from the major hurricane, which is forecast to bring more than 15 inches of rain and high winds to many of the state’s largest pig- and hog-producing counties.

Actions that farmers are taking include:

  • Shifting animals to higher ground. Farmers and integrators are working to move animals out of barns in known flood-prone areas, shifting them to other farms to prevent animal mortality.
  • Ensuring feed supplies are in place. Farmers and integrators are taking precautions to ensure ample feed provisions are on farms in anticipation of impassable roadways.
  • Preparing for power outages. Farmers are securing generators and fuel supplies to respond to extended power outages.
  • Assessing lagoon levels. Farmers have carefully managed their lagoons throughout the summer growing season, using their manure as a crop fertilizer. Every hog farm lagoon is required to maintain a minimum buffer to account for major flood events. Farmers across the major production areas of North Carolina are reporting current lagoon storage levels that can accommodate more than 25 inches of rain, with many reporting capacity volumes far beyond that.

“Our farmers and others in the pork industry are working together to take precautions that will protect our farms, our animals and our environment,” said Brandon Warren, President of the North Carolina Pork Council and a hog farmer from Sampson County. “The preparations for a hurricane began long before the past few hours or days. Our farmers take hurricane threats extremely seriously. We are continuing this work until the storm will force us inside.”

These same actions served the industry well during historic flooding brought by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Despite dire predictions from activist environmental groups, North Carolina farmers were well prepared for Hurricane Matthew when it arrived in October 2016. Even with record rainfall, only one lagoon experienced structural damage – and that was on a farm that had not housed any animals for more than five years.

An additional 14 lagoons were inundated with floodwater — compared to 55 during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 — but more than 3,750 other lagoons did not experience any flooding at all.

Following Hurricane Matthew, the Division of Water Resources conducted extensive monitoring of waterways across Eastern North Carolina. It reached the following conclusion:

“After reviewing the data collected, and comparing that to precipitation amounts, river levels and known areas of flooding, the overall impacts of Hurricane Matthew on surface water quality were initially minimal and temporary, and the long-term effects appear to be similar to previous storms and long-term historical conditions. While many eastern North Carolina areas were inundated by floodwaters and incidents of spills, breaches or waste facility shutdowns were reported, the amount of water discharged into the river basins resulted in a diluting effect, which primarily resulted in lower than normal concentrations of various pollutants.”

###

Contact: Jen Kendrick at jen@ncpork.org.