'Sometimes Mother Nature wins'

It was a worst case scenario. Storms pummeled the Midwest last week - slamming Missouri and Illinois particularly hard - with nearly a foot of rain. Click to watch a news report from Reuters illustrating the magnitude of the flood.

In Illinois, the flooding impacted more than just homes and businesses. Jennifer Tirey, executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, described the situation that led to an estimated 2,500 hogs drowning.

"A creek flooded its bank causing the barn to become inundated with water," she told PORK Network

in an email. "There was no power, and the road to the barn was also impassable."

However, the tragedy was isolated. Other pork producers threatened by flooding were able to reach their pigs and hogs and transport the animals to higher ground for their safety. This, Tirey emphasized, is the "number one priority" of all pork producers.

Read, "2,500 hogs drown in Midwest flooding."

Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications with the National Pork Board, reiterated the dedication these men and women have for their animals.

"Pork producers do all they can to protect their pigs from such challenges. Many producers who live in the floodplains of the Midwest have Emergency Action Plans that they activate for floods, blizzards, ice storms, power outages and more," Cunningham said. "Having plans in place, that sometimes include where and when to move pigs to other locations, is all part of their protocols."

Cunningham added, "With that said, sometimes Mother Nature wins out over the best plans."

Cunningham points to two plans available to help prepare producers for natural disasters: the Emergency Action Plan and Farm-Level Crisis Plan.

  • "The Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is part of the PQA Plus Program," Cunningham explained. "It really looks at operations on the farm. For instance, if there's an ice storm and there's no power at a site, the EAP makes sure there's a generator and other tools in place to make sure those pigs are well-cared for throughout the situation."
  • Cunningham describes a Farm-Level Crisis Plan as taking the "emergency action plan one step further." It helps ensure those on the other side of the situation, such as lenders or neighbors, understand what producers did to care for their animals and that producers "will still be able to be in business."

Both are available at no charge on www.PORK.org.