Smithfield Foods assessing damages after hurricane

W. Curt Vincent -

SMITHFIELD, Va. — Smithfield Foods employees continue to work around the clock to determine the impact of the extraordinarily high levels of rain in North Carolina on the company’s farms and processing facilities, including those in Bladen County.

None of our processing plants in North Carolina or Virginia suffered substantive damage, but flooding is making the movement of hogs and employees difficult.

According to a release distributed Thursday afternoon by Kathleen Kirkham, director of corporate communications: “Our teams are working diligently to mitigate these logistical issues, and our facilities are operating at full capacity in Virginia, and at a reduced rate in North Carolina. We anticipate resuming full production next week.”

Kirkham said there were no reports of Smithfield Foods’ farms suffering a breach or a lagoon failure.

“We have one report of flood waters rising into the lagoon at one of our contract farms,” she said. “We continue to monitor reports from on the ground and aerial observation.”

There are more than 2,100 permitted hog farms across North Carolina.

According to Deborah Johnson, CEO of the N.C. Pork Council, the vast majority of hog farms in the state face tremendous challenges caused by the storm.

“Through 2 p.m. Thursday, it appears that fewer than 3,000 swine were killed during Hurricane Matthew,” she added. “Only one farm lost any swine due to flooding.”

There was no indication where that took place.

Kirkham’s statement added: “this remains a serious, life-threatening situation, and our top priorities continue to be the safety and well-being of our employees and the care of our animals.”

According to anonymous reports from the Tar Heel plant, there has been no significant disruption in production since Hurricane Matthew.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent

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