More than 5,500 pigs and 3.4 million chickens and turkeys have been killed in Hurricane Florence, mostly by drowning in record-breaking floods in North Carolina, says the state’s agriculture department.
That number is expected to rise in the coming days, says North Carolina Department Agriculture and Consumer Services, as many farm owners have not had the opportunity to properly account for their losses, and millions of farm animals are still stranded in high-risk flooded areas.
Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in North Carolina on September 14, claimed at least 37 human lives and cost $17 billion in damages. But the storm has also taken a brutal toll on some of the country’s biggest livestock suppliers.
Sanderson Farms, the third largest poultry supplier in the US, has alone lost 1.7 million of its broiler chickens after 60 of its facilities flooded, and the company is trying to access 6 million chickens near Lumberton, North Carolina, before they starve to death or die of exposure.
Price of Pork
Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago, is bullish on hogs and anticipates as much as a 30-cent-per-pound hike at grocery stores.
"It could be big bucks," he said. "What makes this even more potentially devastating is we could wipe out millions of hogs."
Christine McCracken, senior protein analyst for Rabobank, isn't buying that pork prices will go up at food stores. She sees the issue as the logistics of getting the hogs to the processing plants due to freight routes downed by Hurricane Florence.
McCracken added that there are large inventories of pork across the country to cover some of the shortfalls. In the path of the hurricane sit five hog processing plants that will remain offline for several days, though if too many days go by, they may have to stay open beyond their regular Monday-through-Friday schedules to catch up afterward.
It seems to me if a million or more hogs die, it's not a logistics issue of getting dead hogs to market. Rather, It will be a logistics issue of what to do with a million dead hogs and the resultant stench.
Oh! The Humanity
Get a Freezer
Regardless of how many animals die, my advice remains the same. Get a freezer. I just stocked up on bacon, whole port tenderloin, and whole chickens at attractive prices.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock