(Adds bylines, comments from state agriculture commissioner,
By Jim Brumm and Tom Polansek
WILMINGTON, N.C./CHICAGO Oct 11 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
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,
The farm needed the generator to provide feed and water to
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)