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Assessing Florence’s impact on ag

Assessing Florence’s impact on ag

The hurricane hit the Carolinas over the weekend

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The ag industry is beginning to understand the damage Hurricane Florence caused across North and South Carolina.

The storm, which forecasters downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it made landfall Friday, brought devastating winds and up to 30 inches of rain in some areas.

Florence arrived at the worst possible time for agriculture, said Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau.

“Agriculture will take the brunt of this hurricane in terms of economic losses,” he said during an appearance on “Varney & Co.” on Fox Business on Friday.

Tobacco is the state’s number one cash crop in terms of revenue, generating about US$754 million annually. This year, farmers were set to harvest more than 158,000 acres of tobacco but about half of the crop “will be basically destroyed, blown away,” Wooten said Saturday, Fortune reported.

Officials also expressed concern about hog farms located in Florence’s path.

With heavy rains on the way, producers worked to ensure lagoons did not flood and send manure floating down flooded roads.

The rain tapered off enough to keep lagoons from overflowing, the North Carolina Pork Council said.

“Rainfall amounts across the region have not exceeded the available capacity of farm lagoons on whole across the industry,” the organization said in a statement Saturday.

Government officials are scheduling crop inspections in South Carolina.

State Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers will go on a helicopter tour tomorrow to assess Florence’s damage on local crops.

“Timing is everything with a storm like Florence, and the timing was particularly bad for our cotton farmers, who are telling us their crops took a hit from the high winds,” Weathers said in a statement yesterday. 

“Because soybeans are a month or two from harvest, they may incur less damage.  We’ll know more when official assessments take place this week.”

View of Hurricane Florence from space
Ricky Arnold/Twitter photo


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