Tornadoes Damage Southern Agriculture

The recent string of heavy storms has severely damaged several Southern states’ agricultural economies. On April 16, multiple tornadoes touched down in North Carolina, part of a larger series of storms that swept through several Southern states. The storms killed over twenty people and left tens of thousands without power. In addition, the tornadoes swept through eastern North Carolina, hitting much of the state’s farms and agricultural land. While early enough in the planting season to avoid catastrophic economic damage, the storms have destroyed several farms, including the more than 100 year old Norris Farm.

More devastating were the April 27th tornadoes that tore through the South. The storms, which killed over 300 people across the South, were felt particularly hard in Alabama, where 250 people have been reported as killed. In addition to the staggering human cost, the storms have battered Alabama’s multibillion dollar agricultural industry. North Alabama poultry producers, one of the largest agricultural industries in the state, have estimated that about 200 poultry houses were destroyed and about 180 damaged (a typical poultry house contains about 20,000 birds). In addition to the loss of animals, the massive power outages and disrupted access to clean water could threaten more livestock in the state.

President Obama has already declared a state of emergency in Alabama and several other Southern states hit hardest by last week’s storms. The declaration should unlock federal disaster funds, which should help individual citizens, small businesses, and agricultural businesses rebuild. State officials and local residents have already praised FEMA’s reaction to these storms, the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer