Hurricane Matthew has flooded several chicken farms in eastern North Carolina and left many out of power. When disaster strikes like this, farmers face may find themselves facing loss or damage to their home, to their land and essential farm equipment, and a long road to recovery and rebuilding. On top of that, as the flood waters receded chicken and livestock farmers will face another dilemma – they may have lost entire flocks, which can be hundreds of thousands of birds. In these catastrophic loss situations, farmers’ contracts make it clear that even though the companies technically own the birds while they are alive, the farmers themselves have to take on the burden and risk of disposing of the dead bird carcasses in a timely and safe way.
“I don’t think about the money,” says Craig Watts, poultry farmer. “I think about these people losing everything they’ve got. There is risk in everything, but they did not fail on their own. They failed because of other people making decisions for them.”