Hurricane Florence inundated wide swaths of North and South Carolina, leaving behind massive destruction, including the regions’ agricultural segment.  Thus far, it has been estimated that 40 people have died as a result of the hurricane, with 26 of those in North Carolina.

It has been reported that North Carolina’s poultry sector suffered the loss of at least 3.4 million birds, including both chicken and turkeys, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced late Tuesday.  The number of birds lost exceeds poultry losses as a result of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  The swine industry losses have been estimated at about 5,500 hogs. However, the state agency warned that livestock losses “could change based on further recovery efforts.”

Power failures were widespread, as well as flooded roads, which made it difficult to get feed to livestock operations and to bring in fuel to run backup generators.  Many of the creeks and rivers have not yet crested, so more damage is likely to occur..

In other ag sectors, North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the nation, and the crop was only about one-fourth harvested before the hurricans struck.  Sweet potatoes generated about $350 million in crop value last year.

South Carolina suffered damage to its cotton crop due to flooding.  South Carolina’s cotton crop is valued at more than $150 million annually and is usually harvested in late September.  The tobacco crop was also affected and was only about 50 percent out of the field.  About 50 pecent of the tobacco produced in the U.S. comes from North Carolina, representing about $724 million to the state’s economy last year.  The hurricane also had an impact on peanuts, halting most of the peanut harvesting.