How North Carolina Farmers Prepared for Hurricane Florence

Hog farmers worked around the clock to fill feed bins and feeders ahead of Hurricane Florence's arrival. ( PORK )

Farmer reports from the Southeast are detailing how they have been working non-stop to prepare ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Uncertainty in the storm’s track, and forecasts ranging from 30” to only 8” or 10” of rain, means they’ve been preparing for the worst-case scenario.

“It has dropped down to a Category 2, but has doubled in size,” Chris Naylor, a crop and hog farmer in North Carolina, told Clinton Griffiths on AgriTalk Thursday. This storm is 500 miles wide. It’s enormous.”

An Even Earlier Harvest Than Farmers Thought

“We've had some long days, trying to finish harvesting our corn crop. We've been pushing hard for a good week or so… almost around the clock trying to get it out,” said Brandon Warren, president, North Carolina Pork Council.

Stocking up on feed supplies, as well as keeping it dry, and fueling up generators are key. Electricity is needed to keep ventilation and feeding systems working during the storm, so pigs are fed and comfortable.

“We've got tractor generators hooked up, ready to go.  Tractors full of fuel. We've got small generator for houses and anything else you can imagine we might know them for,” Naylor said. “We’ve gone around to all the hog barns and tied the lids to the feed tanks down. We've tied the curtains up to keep them from, hopefully, blown away. We've got generator set up on them so if and when the power does go out. We can we can run those barns so there’ll be food and water provided adequately to them.”

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Farmers Tell the Real Story

While flooding is a concern in many areas, hog farms are sited for the highest point on a property.

“Our hog farms are on higher ground so they’re safe. The biggest thing with the flooding—low areas and under highways preventing or making it difficult to get from farm to farm to check things when it's safe to get back out,” Warren said.

Even days ahead of the storm, environmental and animal activists were quick to begin spreading negative messages about agriculture. Communication is key, Naylor said.   

 “We were trying to get the message out there that we're here—we're taking care of our animals, the environment and we're doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our animals and our neighbors and not let anything catastrophic happen,” Naylor added.

“It's so important for us to tell our story because if we don't someone else, in groups, environmental groups, animal activists that are not in favor of animal production will tell a story for us.” 

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