RALEIGH, NC – Inspectors with the North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services are waiting for flood waters to recede to safe levels before making site visits to livestock operations and processing plants affected by Hurricane Matthew.

“Our Veterinary Division is working hard to reach out to livestock and poultry producers,” the agency said on its website. “We have depopulation teams on standby and are assisting growers with disposal concerns.” Meanwhile, inspectors with the Meat and Poultry Division will be visiting processing plants to ensure the facilities are safe to re-start operations.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has done aerial surveys of the damage. In a statement, he said ““It’s important to get out into the field as soon as possible. We want to help our farmers recover as quickly as possible and assist agribusinesses to resume normal operations as soon as feasible.”

So far the department has confirmed losses of 1.9 million poultry, but no livestock losses have been confirmed, said Brian Long, public affairs director for the department. “Access to farms remains a problem because of road closures,” Long said. “Some rivers are still cresting, so flooding is still a concern in some areas through the weekend.”

Smithfield Foods said no lagoons failed following the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew. But employees will continue monitoring the impact of heavy rains on the company’s North Carolina farms and processing facilities. Smithfield operates six pork processing plants in North Carolina, with its largest facility in Tar Heel, which produces fresh pork and case-ready fresh pork.

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

The company added there was one report of flood waters rising into the lagoon at a Smithfield contract farm.

“We continue to monitor reports from on the ground and aerial observation,” the company said. “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.”