LAUREL, Miss. – As it continues to assess damages and losses from Hurricane Florence, Sanderson Farms Inc. is happy to report the company has still not received any reports of serious injury or loss of life to its employees or growers.
Also, the company’s North Carolina processing facilities, feed mill and two hatcheries did not sustain any significant damage. Facilities in the affected area continued to use diesel generated power until electricity was restored and operations at the Kinston, North Carolina, feed mill have resumed. Sanderson plans to resume operations at the Kinston and St. Pauls processing facilities once roadways become navigable for employees.
The assessment of damage to independent farms and losses of live inventory is ongoing. To date, 60 of 880 broiler houses in North Carolina are flooded and another six have sustained damage enough that they’re unable to house broilers until repairs are made. Four out of 92 North Carolina breeder houses are flooded, but its 33 pullet houses have reported no serious damage. As a result of these losses, the company estimates that approximately 1.7 million head of broiler chickens out of an average live inventory of approximately 20 million head, ranging in age from six days to 62 days, were destroyed as a result of flooding.
Thirty Lumberton, North Carolina, farms housing over 200,000 chickens per farm are not damaged but are isolated by flood waters. Sanderson has been unable to get feed to the farms and losses of inventory could increase if the company is unable to gain access to the farms. The company does not believe the loss of housing capacity will affect its ongoing operations, as it can shorten layouts and take other temporary measures to compensate for these losses. In addition, hatching and placement of live broilers in the field at normal rates will be impossible in the coming week, reducing weekly processing volumes through December.
Diesel-powered generators will continue to provide power to farms and independent contractors until electricity can be restored, which is continuing, but could be as long as three weeks to complete. Sanderson is providing diesel fuel to its farmers to keep operations such as ventilation, feeding and watering going until electrical power is restored. The company believes it has been able to secure sufficient diesel fuel to operate all of the farms housing its live inventories.
“I am relieved that it appears the company’s employees and independent contract producers experienced no loss of life or serious injuries. The magnitude of this storm and the damage it has caused continue to be widespread, and I am pleased that our people remain safe,” Joe Sanderson, Jr., chairman and CEO of Sanderson Farms Inc., said in a statement. “I am also pleased that our assets were not significantly damaged by the hurricane. While the storm’s impact on our live inventories and live production process will have an impact on the company’s capacity and volume over the next two months, none of the losses sustained will be long term. The impact on volume from our live losses will be spread over three months, although inefficiencies resulting from bird stress, overtime pay, and loss of processing days will affect the company’s fourth fiscal quarter. Our focus over the next few weeks will include working to maintain our assets, responding to customers’ needs and replenishing our live production inventories.”
Sanderson Jr. went on to say the company’s primary focus will be on helping the communities affected by the hurricane through providing ice, water, food and other necessities to those affected by this catastrophic storm. “We will continue to help those whose lives have been more seriously disrupted,” he added.
Sanderson Farms believes the terms, conditions and extent of its insurance coverage will cover a significant portion of losses resulting from this storm. The company’s retention under its policy is $2.5 million.