3 Min Read
(Adds bylines, comments from state agriculture commissioner, details)
By Jim Brumm and Tom Polansek
WILMINGTON, N.C./CHICAGO, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Smithfield Foods Inc is working to resume operations on Thursday at the world's largest hog processing facility in North Carolina after closing it due to Hurricane Matthew, the plant's electric supplier said on Tuesday.
The meat company told Four County Electric Membership Corp that it wants to reopen the facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina, on Thursday if enough employees can make it to work, Gay Johnson, spokeswoman for the power supplier, told Reuters. Smithfield will have some workers report to the plant on Wednesday, she said.
Farmers also need to be able to deliver hogs to the plant for operations to resume.
Representatives of Smithfield, owned by China's WH Group Ltd , could not immediately be reached for comment. On Monday, the company said that flooding was making the movement of employees and hogs difficult.
Smithfield shut the plant on Saturday to protect employees from Matthew, a hog supplier has said. It has a daily slaughter capacity of 32,500 hogs, according to National Hog Farmer magazine.
Steve Troxler, North Carolina's agriculture commissioner, said operations at the facility would get back to full speed as soon as possible.
"Can they get enough hogs to the facility to be fully operational? I doubt it right now," he told Reuters on Tuesday.
In a sign of how serious the flooding is, North Carolina's agriculture department airlifted a power generator to a hog farm on Monday because roads leading to the property were washed out, Troxler said.
The farm needed the generator to provide feed and water to its animals.
Matthew, the most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007, killed at least 1,000 people in Haiti last week before barreling up the U.S. southeastern coast and causing nearly 30 deaths in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
It dumped more than a foot (30 cm) of rain in areas of North Carolina already soaked from heavy September rainfall. (Reporting by Jim Brumm and Tom Polansek; Editing by Chris Reese, Richard Chang and Bill Rigby)