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VIDEO: In Hearing with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Pingree Emphasizes Need to Support Farmers in Face of Worsening Climate Crisis

In a House Agriculture Committee hearing today with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, Maine First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree sounded the alarm on the urgent need to support farmers in Maine and across the county facing challenges due to climate change. The hearing comes on the heels of devastating and costly storms in Maine, which severely impacted producers, foresters, businesses, and working waterfronts throughout the state. 

“I like to remind people this wasn't the only bad weather we'd had,” Pingree said in the hearing. “We had frost that destroyed our fruit crops in the spring, we had wet weather in the summer that left hay that couldn't be harvested or in such poor condition that our dairy farmers and livestock farmers have to supplement the diet this winter with increased grain and corn sileage. This is going to continue to impact our farmers.”

Click here to watch Pingree’s full exchange with Secretary Vilsack. 

Pingree, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, also noted that in addition to getting a Farm Bill done, Congress must provide adequate funding for the USDA. Pingree said the 18% cut to USDA that Republicans proposed is “ludicrous.”   

The hearing was live-streamed. Click here to watch. 

Last month, Pingree hosted Secretary Vilsack in Maine for a roundtable discussion with agriculture leaders from across the state to discuss a spate of pressing challenges Maine farmers and foresters are facing. 

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. 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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