US Farmers Hurry to Harvest Crops as Hurricane Florence Looms
$WEAT, $CORN, $SOY
As powerful Hurricane Florence moves closer to the southeastern United States Tuesday, farmers in North Carolina rushed to harvest Corn and Tobacco and stock up on pig rations, while the danger of deadly flooding threatened a state where millions of farm animals are housed.
The forecasts for devastating rain and winds also had WH Group’s Smithfield Foods, the largest US pork processor, planning to shut 2 of its North Carolina plants including the world’s biggest hog slaughterhouse.
Meanwhile, pig farmers across the state were lowering levels of liquid manure in outdoor storage pits in an effort to avoid a repeat of Hurricane Floyd. The Y 1999 storm flooded manure pits and contaminated waterways with animal carcasses and waste.
North Carolina is the country’s leading producer of tobacco, second-biggest producer of hogs and a major poultry producer. Its crops include Corn, Soybean and Cotton, making agriculture the state’s #1 industry, valued at $87-B.
“The Governor said that North Carolina is the bull’s eye of this hurricane,” the President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, said in an interview. “I’ll tell you, agriculture is in the heart of that bull’s eye.”
Florence, a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 miles per hour (210 kph), is expected to make landfall on Friday, bringing heavy, sustained rain and potentially deadly flooding to the US Southeast coast. Some 1+ people have been ordered to evacuate.
Fully, 67% of North Carolina’s farm income comes from poultry and livestock, including hogs and dairy cattle, according to Wooten. The state has 8.9-M swine, 12% of the US herd, US Agriculture Department data showed.
In 2017, its farmers raised 830.8 million chickens for meat, 9 percent of the U.S. flock, and 32.5 million turkeys, or 13 percent of the U.S. total, according to USDA data.
It is unclear how many farm animals are in the storm’s path, according to the North Carolina Poultry Federation.
Just 2 years ago, more than a million poultry birds died when floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew covered areas across central and eastern North Carolina. Carcasses were composted inside the houses where the birds were being raised.
More than 20 ins (51 cm) of rainfall are possible across eastern North Carolina, said a senior agricultural meteorologist for weather forecaster Radiant Solutions.
The approaching storm also prompted commodity handler Cargill Inc to make plans to close meat processing plants in West Columbia, South Carolina, and Dayton, Virginia, on Friday.
Both Cargill and Smithfield said the plant closures were due to safety concerns.
North Carolina’s Corn crop was 43% harvested as of Sunday, while the type of Tobacco most commonly grown in the state was 67% harvested, according to USDA data.
North Carolina has waived transportation rules to help farmers move crops and livestock ahead of the most severe storm to threaten the US Mainland this year. “During harvest, time is of the essence,” Governor Roy Cooper said in announcing a state of emergency.
In the CBOT market Tuesday
The most active Corn contract for December delivery fell 0.5c, or 0.14% to close at 3.6675 bu.
December Wheat delivery dropped 9.5c, or 1.8% to close at 5.1875 bu.
November Soybean delivery went down 13.5c, or 1.6% to close at 8.3125 bu.