Meat industry in recovery mode as Irma moves northward

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Meat companies in Florida are working to recover from Hurricane Irma as the state faces weeks of electrical outages and lengthy delays in gasoline and diesel fuel deliveries.

A record 3.98 million Florida Power & Light (FPL) customers – an estimated 7 million people total – were without power Sunday night after the Category 4 hurricane pounded the state over the weekend, the utility told Florida Today. FPL has a plan in place to send a total of 17,000 workers, employees from other utilities and contractors from 30 states to help restore power, but the 24/7 effort is expected to take an undetermined amount of time to complete, a utility spokesperson said.

Tyson Foods on Monday did not operate its plant in Jacksonvlle, Fla. or its plants in Cumming, Dawson and Vienna, Ga., out of concern for employee safety, a company spokesman told Meatingplace by email.

“We are continuing to monitor the effects of Hurricane Irma and hope to resume normal operations soon,” Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman noted.

Sanderson Farms plans to restart its Moultrie, Ga. Plant with its second shift Tuesday evening, Sanderson CFO Mike Cockrell told Meatingplace. He said the company had “no significant issues” at either its Moultrie or Adel, Ga. plants.

“There have been a few power outages, but most restored at our assets. We have a few live grow out farms on generator power. We were fortunate, and believe we will be back to normal operations on Wednesday.”

As of Monday afternoon, electrical power had been restored at the hatchery in Adel, but the feed mill power was still out. Six generators were enroute from Mississippi to Adel. There were also 54 farms operating on generator power, with fuel supplies remaining good, according to Sanderson Farms Corporate Manager of Safety Scott Rushing in an internal update shared with Meatingplace.

Despite early preparations last week, three other meat companies contacted by Meatingplace – Miami Purveyors Inc., Murvest and Nettles Sausage Co. – could not be reached by phone Monday. Messages were able to be left at Miami Purveyors and Nettles Sausage, but a phone company message saying “all circuits are busy” interrupted the call to Murvest while the firm’s phone rang unanswered.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture (GDA) issued a release Monday noting that Irma is on track to “significantly impact the entire state,” and that Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia’s 159 counties. The agency – which is closed until Wednesday according to its website – also recommended leaving livestock out to pasture during severe weather to limit fear among the animals. GDA also suggested shutting off electricity to prevent spooked cattle from damaging electric fixtures and provided a list of nearly 500 animal shelters on its website.

And in North Carolina

Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm and could affect North Carolina, which has an agribusiness operations that contribute $84 billion to the state’s economy each year.

The North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services said that in addition to waiving limits on the movement of livestock and poultry, the agency is temporarily suspending health certificate requirements on livestock traveling through the state from areas affected by Irma over the weekend., 9-12-2017

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