As powerful Hurricane Florence crept closer to the southeastern United States, farmers in North Carolina rushed to harvest corn and tobacco and stock up on pig rations, while the danger of deadly flooding threatened a state where millions of farm animals are housed.
Retuers reports North Carolina is the country’s leading producer of tobacco, second-biggest producer of hogs and a major poultry producer. Its crops include corn, soy and cotton, making agriculture the state’s No. 1 industry, valued at $87 billion.
The approaching storm also prompted commodity handler Cargill Inc. to make plans to close meat processing plants in West Columbia, South Carolina, and Dayton, Virginia, on Friday. Cargill said the plant closures were due to safety concerns.
North Carolina’s corn crop was 43% harvested as of Sunday, while the type of tobacco most commonly grown in the state was 67% harvested, according to USDA data.
North Carolina has waived transportation rules to help farmers move crops and livestock ahead of the most severe storm to threaten the U.S. mainland this year.