Storms cause poultry losses in Kentucky, Tennessee

The poultry industry was not immune to the destruction caused by weekend storms in Kentucky and Tennessee.

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Kentucky - Tennessee - Alabama - Georgia - Florida Map labelled black illustration
Kentucky - Tennessee - Alabama - Georgia - Florida Map labelled black illustration
(Ingo Menhard | Bigstock)

A series of tornadoes to strike in Kentucky and Tennessee over the weekend caused widespread damage, and the poultry industry was not immune to those losses.

Losses in Kentucky

"My office has been in touch with folks on the ground in Western Kentucky through the night and this morning. We know we’ve lost lives in the community, entire towns have been wiped out, and there’s been significant damage to agricultural infrastructure,” Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. "I join fellow Kentuckians in praying for those who’ve lost loved ones to these devastating tornadoes. At the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, we are working with other agencies and stand ready to assist in the response."

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, in an interview with NPR, said she toured the damaged areas in Muhlenberg and Ohio counties in western Kentucky. She described those counties as an “agriculturally dependent region,” and said the state will work hard to get relief to the people in those areas.

“I’m talking with folks in Ohio County who have lost 30 head of cattle. They have no idea where they are. … A farmer who has 7 chicken houses, that each house 3,000 chickens, (that are) completely lost. This is the livelihood of these folks that’s going to be part of a long-term rebuild that we’re going to have to focus on,” said Coleman.

President Joe Biden declared that a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and ordered Federal aid to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, and tornadoes beginning on December 10, 2021, and continuing. The president’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Taylor and Warren.

Losses in Tennessee

Tyson Foods reported that storms on December 10 resulted in temporary power outages at some western Tennessee farms that supply Tyson Foods. The storms also damaged a small number of chicken houses in northern Tennessee that are part of Tyson Foods' Supply chain. The company said that there was no indication of any significant impact on Tyson operations. 

Tennessee tornadoes in 2020 caused damage to a poultry house at the University of Tennessee poultry research house.

Tyson offers assistance

Tyson Foods is donating 600,000 meals (150,000 pounds of protein) and deploying other disaster relief efforts to help support parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and other states devastated by the recent tornadoes.

The company is partnering with Walmart to help feed families and relief workers in Mayfield, Kentucky, which is home to Tyson team members who work at its poultry complex in nearby Union City, Tennessee. Plans are also underway to provide food and other assistance in Bowling Green, Kentucky, as well as other nearby communities. Food will also be provided in Samburg and Dresden, Tennessee.

“We’re deeply saddened by the damage and loss of life caused by this powerful storm and we want to do our part to help,” John R. Tyson, executive vice president & chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods, said in a press release. “We’re pitching in to help Tyson team members who have experienced storm damage, and we will continue to work with local community partners to learn where our resources and expertise can be best utilized.”

Tyson Foods plans to locate its Meals That Matter disaster relief trailer at the Walmart Supercenter in Mayfield early this week and will have volunteers on site who will distribute food. The volunteers involved will include grill teams from Tyson Foods’ facilities in Humboldt, Tennessee, and Corydon, Indiana. Volunteers from Tyson locations in Arkansas will also assist.


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