North Carolina’s sweet potato farmers, already facing lower prices for their crop, were dealt a powerful second blow in September, when Hurricane Florence flooded the state’s top sweet potato-producing counties.
The U.S. District Court in Wyoming ruled Monday that the state’s ag-gag laws are unconstitutional. The ruling comes after several years of litigation between the state and plaintiffs who argued the laws were written solely to deter monitoring of the effects of agriculture on the state’s water, land, and air.
In order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Smithfield Foods set a target on Thursday of equipping 90 percent of its hog-finishing facilities in three states with manure-to-energy digesters to capture biogas for eventual sale as renewable natural gas.
A month after Hurricane Florence swamped southern North Carolina with up to 40 inches of rain, state officials offered on Thursday to buy out hog farms that have a high risk of flooding in severe storms.
Gov. Roy Cooper earmarked $235 million for agriculture out of a proposed $1.5 billion in state spending for recovery from Hurricane Florence “and future storm resiliency” on Wednesday.
Flood water from Hurricane Florence still afflicts some North Carolina hog farmers more than two weeks after the storm reached land, said the state Department of Environmental Quality on Tuesday. For the 10th day in a row, the DEQ reported 41 manure lagoons were flooded or overflowing at hog farms.
Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina at harvest time and caused agricultural losses of $1.1 billion, almost all of it in row crops, said the state Agriculture Department on Wednesday.
Poultry growers lost 4 million chickens and turkeys due to Hurricane Florence and crop losses will run in the billions of dollars, said Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, on Tuesday. Wooten's poultry figure was higher than the only estimate by state officials, made a week ago, of 3.4 million birds killed by the storm, along with 5,500 hogs.
Hurricane Florence is the latest illustration that "flood-prone coastal states like North Carolina are no place for CAFOs," said the Union of Concerned Scientists, calling for tighter regulation of industrial livestock farms. Gov. Roy Cooper and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are scheduled to view agricultural damage today and may see some of the four dozen manure lagoons statewide that are flooded or overflowing because of storm water.