This week marked my one-year anniversary at National Hog Farmer. Time must truly fly when you are having fun, because the last 12 months sure went by in a breeze.
It’s been a privilege to get to meet so many of you and tell your stories, to cover the pork industry’s most pressing issues and to work with our contributors to provide educational, engaging content that we hope helps U.S. pork production get better and better. After all, isn’t that the goal? Whether you are the CEO, the herd manager, the nutritionist, the veterinarian, the feed mill manager, the truck driver, the processor, and even me, we’re all striving to get better in our chosen career paths, right?
It’s not hard to remember when I started at NHF; North Carolina pork producers were preparing for Hurricane Florence. A year later, the name of the hurricane has changed, but it’s the same story with Dorian and the state’s producers are ready. Why? Because they have been getting better at their jobs over the last few years.
In the past three years, North Carolina farms saw minimal impacts from two of the worst hurricanes to ever hit the state. Despite receiving more than three feet of rain during Hurricane Florence, 98% of the state’s anerobic treatment lagoons were not negatively impacted by the storm.
Additionally, since Hurricane Floyd in 1999, more than 325 treatment lagoons located in flood-prone areas have been permanently closed through a voluntary buyout program. That program continues today.
For a state that has about 9 million pigs, only 5,500 pigs were lost during Hurricane Florence’s historic rains.
North Carolina’s pork industry members, just like our nation’s pork industry members, have gotten better at their jobs. Unfortunately for us, mainstream media has not.
When the 2019 hurricane season is finished, there will most likely be photos of flooded fields, incorrectly captioned as hog farms. There will probably be articles that will incorrectly cite animal waste facilities that have been compromised, not the municipal human waste systems that spilled 121 million gallons of sewage in the state’s waterways during Florence. Mainstream media will no doubt be anxious to show and tell the storm’s destruction, but will they bother to check facts?
Only time will tell, but I hope in the last year they have learned some lessons since Florence. I hope they have developed a list of pork industry sources that can provide the facts and insight on the situation and that can verify photos before publishing. I hope as all eyes are on the East Coast, mainstream media will be better at their jobs, just like our friends in the North Carolina pork industry.