Last month's tornadoes in Mississippi left 18 poultry farms and 78 chicken houses damaged or destroyed, and left more than a million dead chickens in it's wake according to the Mississippi Board of Animal Health.
Many poultry farmers have insurance to replace what they lost in the storm, but many are having to rely heavily on federal relief, to supplement their income, while they rebuild.
Andy Prosser, a Deputy Commissioner with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture says,
"Whenever we lose birds of course that all ties back to the local economy," said Mississippi Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Andy Prosser. "Losing a million birds is a significant hit for those farmers especially those with 18-20 that were especially hit hard. That's income in Winston county and parts of northeast Mississippi that were hit."
The Mississippi Poultry Association says poultry farming is Mississippi's largest agricultural industry, employing 28-thousand Mississippians statewide.
"Chicken houses these days cost about 200 thousand so you got a bank loan, you got insurance but there are programs available through the farm services administration that pays them for a certain percentage of those chickens that they lost," said Mississippi Poultry Association President Mark Leggett.
800 million chickens are grown in the state every year. About 15 percent are exported to other countries. Farmers are hoping the federal government can help them clear out the debris quickly, so they can get back to work.
"It will be a long time for some of them coming back, depending on how severe the damage was," said Leggett. "It could be 3-6 months before they get back up in operation, all of them."
Winston County was the hardest hit by the storm. They had 9 farms that suffered different levels of damage.
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