KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After making landfall Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Michael caused significant damage to the Florida panhandle and continued to move through Alabama and Georgia. on Oct. 11. Now meat processors in southeastern states are preparing for possible operational disruptions over the next few days as the storm makes its way inland.
Frank Singleton, a media spokesman for Oakwood, Georgia-based Wayne Farms, provided MEAT+POULTRY with an update on conditions for their operations.
"Dothan (Alabama) area was without power at various times during the storm," Singleton said in an email. "The Dothan plant lost power, and received minor damage to some outbuildings, but no significant damage. The plant will start back up this afternoon. Two Dothan area farms suffered significant damage to three houses, with some loss of birds (no specific number available as yet). Other area farms lost power but were not damaged and were able to run systems off backup generators."
Singleton also said that a feed mill in Ozark, Alabama, was not damaged but did lose power during the storm. He said Wayne Farms was waiting for a local hospital to have its power restored before the feed mill. According to Wayne Farms, no injuries have been reported, but they are waiting to hear from employees in southwest Georgia.
Sanderson Farms posted a statement on social media on Oct. 10 saying that the company continued to “monitor the weather and results of #HurricaneMichael in areas near our Moultrie, Georgia, operations. Our Moultrie Processing facility will remain closed on first shift tomorrow (Thursday, October 11) with plans to operate second shift if weather conditions permit. The Sanitation Department should contact their supervisors.”
In a statement to MEAT+POULTRY on Oct. 10, Tyson Foods said that "because team member safety is our top priority we’re not operating at our poultry plant in Vienna, Georgia, (Wednesday) or Thursday. We plan to resume operations Friday. Our distribution center in Macon, Georgia, dismissed team members at 2 p.m. (Wednesday)."
(Note: Tyson Foods updated MEAT+POULTRY on Oct. 12 and said it will not run its Vienna, Georgia operation on Friday.)
The company said it planned to resume operation on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Macon. Tyson also said its disaster relief team, Meals that Matter, is ready and prepared to help storm victims, volunteers and first responders with meals in the aftermath of the storm.
Smithfield Foods released a its own statement on Oct. 10 regarding the latest hurricane.
"The company is fully prepared for the potential impact of Hurricane Michael after implementing its hurricane preparedness procedures in North Carolina and South Carolina," Smithfield said. “These measures help the company protect its people, animals, facilities and farms during inclement and potentially harmful weather. Smithfield continues to closely monitor and is lowering lagoon levels on hog farms as necessary in accordance with state regulations and nutrient management plans. The company is actively encouraging its contract growers to do the same."
Smithfield added that it is fully prepared to take any steps necessary to protect animals, which may include proactively removing animals from farms in areas threatened by flooding.