“We have been monitoring the storm closely, and are telling our producers to follow their emergency preparedness plans,” South Carolina Pork Board Director Chad Truesdale says of the impending Hurricane Irene, which is currently passing over Puerto Rico in the Caribbean before it heads north along the East Coast this weekend.

He adds: “It looks like most of our producers are going to be fine, since most of our production facilities are several miles inland, and it looks like the storm is going to veer enough to the east that even producers closest to the coast are only going to experience possible tropical storm-force winds and a couple of inches of rain.”

True says now producers are “really just keeping our fingers crossed that the storm continues on a more easterly course for our sake and even more so for our neighbors in North Carolina.”

North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC) Chief Executive Officer Deborah Johnson says it is important to remind producers that a permit condition (2009) requires land application of manure to stop within four hours of the time that a hurricane warning, tropical storm warning or flood watch associated with a tropical storm is issued.

Dry conditions in North Carolina have allowed most producers to keep waste treatment lagoon levels low.

But the intensely hot, dry weather has proved to be a real disadvantage in regard to the corn crop, Johnson says. “Our Department of Agriculture says 40% of the state’s corn crop is considered poor and very poor, and yields are expected to be way below the 10-year average. With Irene approaching this week, many farmers are working to get the remaining corn out of the fields in advance of the rain and the wind that we expect to start arriving later today.”

NCPC on its Web site reminds producers that, “as with any potential weather event, it is important to make sure your farm property is secure, pumps and generators are in good working condition and emergency plans – including those related to animal welfare – are in place.”

Producers are also advised to make plans now for animal care in case of power outages or blocked roads/access to farms.”

Specifically, the NCPC advises producers to remember to:

  • Test generators to ensure they are working properly and will be able to provide power necessary for the well-being of animals;
  • Ensure adequate food and medications are on site; and
  • Develop a plan for checking on animals after the weather crisis passes.

Learn more about disaster preparedness at: http://www.ncpork.org/pages/hurricane_preparation_for_producers.jsp.