Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Representing the 1st District of Maine

VIDEO: Pingree Highlight Shutdown’s Effects on Agriculture, Rural Communities

Jan 10, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—During House floor debate on agriculture appropriations legislation today, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree highlighted the need to reinstate funding for the USDA and FDA amid many negative impacts the shutdown is having on agriculture and families in Maine. 

This week, the House is voting on a series of bipartisan appropriations bill—which had previously received overwhelming support in the Senate—to reopen key agencies in federal government. The lapse in agriculture appropriations has negatively impacted Maine in several ways, with effects to worsen if the shutdown drags on. Rural housing loans have been delayed, farmers have not been able to meet with USDA staff, SNAP recipients could lose access to food assistance next month, and routine food safety inspections have been halted. 

Pingree’s Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

I rise in support of H.R. 265, the Fiscal Year 2019 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  
There is no reason that we cannot pass these individual appropriations bills that have nothing to do with border security and have strong bipartisan support.  
The FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes robust funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration--two federal agencies that touch the life of every American. 
President Trump’s obsession with the wall should not jeopardize Americans’ access to the important food, housing and farm programs at USDA and FDA.  
The shutdown is having real impacts back home in Maine.
For the farmer who could lose their family farm before the refinancing of their FSA mortgage can be approved.
For the single parent, trying to make ends meet and not knowing whether their SNAP benefits will be there next month. 
And for the couple who won’t be able to close on their dream home because they can’t access a Rural Housing loan.
These are just a few examples of how disruptive the shutdown has been in my district. 
Just last month, we finalized the 2018 Farm Bill, finally giving farmers and families certainty about these important USDA programs.  
That certainty was ripped away from them because USDA can’t start implementing the new farm bill until the shutdown ends.
Additionally, recent reports that FDA is no longer conducting routine food safety inspections are alarming and unacceptable.
The FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill will provide the funding necessary for USDA and FDA to once again fulfill their regulatory duties and provide resources to Americans who are counting on them.
Let’s reopen our local USDA offices.
Let’s restart routine inspections to ensure the safety of our food system.
And let’s keep nutrition assistance programs going to make sure hungry families have food on their tables.
I urge my colleagues to support the FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill and end the shutdown.  
I yield back.