Alabama’s poultry farmers continue to rebuild after the April 27 tornadoes that devastated large areas of the state and destroyed or damaged more than 700 chicken houses. Out of those houses destroyed, about 70 percent of the affected farmers are staying in the business, said John McMillan, the state’s agriculture commissioner.

The rest, McMillian said, have elected not to rebuild for various reasons, including their age, the amount of insurance they had, and whether there is another generation coming along to take over the business.  “It boils down to an individual small business person decision-making process,” he said.

Initially, rebuilding was slowed by the massive quantities of debris left in the wake of the storms, which killed 3.2 million chickens.  Building supplies and labor also have been limited in northern Alabama, which is the heart of the state’s poultry industry, and the region that took the brunt of the tornado damage.  Complicating the rebuilding efforts was that fact that some farmers lost their homes in the storms and their farm equipment as well.

However, overall, Alabama’s poultry industry has been little impacted.  “There are so many growers and, there are so many chickens being hatched out and delivered each week.  In the grand scheme of thing, it’s not a big deal,” McMillan said.  Rather, it is the individual farmers that have felt the impact of the storm on their businesses, their homes, and their incomes, he said.