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Pingree, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Meet with Maine Farmers, Discuss December Storm Impact, Climate Change, and More

The roundtable discussion with local leaders and agricultural stakeholders focused on the impact of recent storms on the state’s farms and forests, as well as USDA’s efforts to help farmers and ranchers recover from losses and damages.

  • Vilsack Portland 12
Maine First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a longtime farmer and member of the House Agriculture Committee, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday met with agriculture leaders from across the state to discuss a spate of pressing challenges Maine farmers are facing. For the roundtable discussion at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Pingree and Secretary Vilsack were joined by Amanda Beal, Commissioner of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry; Glenn Prickett, CEO and President of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Annie Watson, President of Maine Dairy Industry Association; and Hannah Carter, Dean of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Penelope Jordan, Owner of Jordan Farms; Betsy Biemann, CEO of Coastal Enterprises Inc.; and Dana Doran, Executive Director of Professional Logging Contractors of the Northeast, among others. Coming just weeks after Maine endured a costly and damaging storm, the discussion focused on recovery efforts and how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to help impacted farms, as well as challenges farmers continue to face with climate change. 

“Our entire state is still feeling the devastating impacts from last month’s storm, which caused severe flooding, power outages, and damages across Maine. Farmers, foresters, and their businesses have been acutely affected, and today, I’m grateful Secretary Vilsack and I got a chance to hear from some of them directly about how we can support them and their recovery efforts at the federal level,” said Pingree. “The agricultural leaders we heard from today also reinforced that climate change is deeply impacting Maine’s agriculture industry. As Congress works to enact a Farm Bill, I am committed to pushing for meaningful solutions to better support Maine farmers, foresters, and producers.”

"In recent years, producers in Maine have shown incredible resilience in the face of severe weather. Thanks to President Biden's Investing in America agenda, USDA is investing historic resources to help rural communities and producers find more opportunities for prosperity while combatting climate change and advancing clean energy and conversation efforts that increase the resilience of farming operations,” said Secretary Vilsack. “I was honored to be among producers in Maine today, and committed to them that the Biden-Harris Administration is here to support."


In Congress, Pingree has distinguished herself as a successful advocate for reforming food policies to help consumers access healthier food and to support organic and sustainable agriculture. She has been a relentless advocate for changing federal programs, including agricultural programs, to respond to the impacts of climate change. Pingree is the author of the Agriculture Resilience Act, comprehensive legislation that sets a bold vision of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by the year 2040.

As a member of both the House Agriculture Committee and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Pingree continues to be a vocal advocate for agriculture and food policy reform including policies and funding to support resilient, sustainable solutions in a changing climate. Because of her leadership, the 2018 Farm Bill more than doubled funding for organic research, created the first federal produce prescription program, and created the local agriculture market program with permanent federal funding.

The Farm Bill is a legislative package passed roughly every five years that has a tremendous impact on rural communities, food security, farmers’ livelihoods, and how our food is grown. From crop insurance to support for sustainable farming practices, the Farm Bill is how the federal government shapes our food and agriculture systems. Learn more about the Farm Bill and Pingree’s priorities here.

This summer, Pingree hosted House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and her fellow Committee members in Midcoast Maine for a listening session on the next Farm Bill. 


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