Florence’s toll on North Carolina ag: $1.1 billion

Hurricane Florence is responsible for more than $1.1 billion in crop damage and livestock and poultry losses in North Carolina, according to initial estimates from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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DiscoDancer, BigStock.com
DiscoDancer, BigStock.com

Hurricane Florence is responsible for more than $1.1 billion in crop damage and livestock and poultry losses in North Carolina, according to initial estimates from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Those damage estimates nearly triple those of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, as that storm caused about $400 million in damages, the agency said.

“We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agricultural counties especially hard,” North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a press release. “These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry.”

Row crop losses accounted to nearly half of the losses faced in North Carolina. The state agriculture department estimated that those losses amounted to about $986.6 million.

Livestock and poultry losses

Total livestock, poultry and aquaculture losses were estimated at $23 million. An estimated 4.1 million head of poultry were lost. Among the top poultry companies to report to WATT Global Media either live bird losses or disruptions to poultry plant production were Sanderson Farms, House of Raeford Farms, Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods and Butterball. Sanderson Farms alone reported that it lost 1.7 million chickens to the storm. The company also reported that 70 broiler houses flooded.

The agency also estimated that about 5,500 hogs were lost to the storm.

Other agricultural losses

  • Other agricultural sectors to experience losses included:
  • Forestry -- $69.6 million in losses
  • Green industry -- $30 million
  • Vegetable and horticulture -- $26.8 million

The estimates were based on the percentage of crops still in the field in the 35 most highly impacted counties. The calculations also looked at a five-year average for crop production and the prices of commodities. Assessment information from the department’s regional agronomists, North Carolina State University agents and specialists, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and commodity associations were used to develop estimates.

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