To Address Tariff Impacts on Lobsters, Maine Delegation Urges Government Promotional Support

Maine’s lawmakers pushing for resources in expected $100 million USDA program announcement, given harmful impacts from tariff war

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include significant funding for Maine’s lobster industry as the Department finalizes their aid package for agricultural producers affected by China’s retaliatory tariffs. The letter follows up on the Delegation’s initial request in June to provide relief for Maine’s lobster industry amidst the ongoing trade war with China.

 

“We write to ask that as the Department of Agriculture finalizes Agricultural Trade Promotion (“ATP”) Program awards under its aid package for producers affected by trade disruption, you allocate significant ATP funding for the Maine lobster industry,” wrote the Maine Delegation. “Retaliatory tariffs have caused a very significant export market for Maine lobster – China – to all but disappear.  ATP funding will help to develop new export markets for Maine lobster, decreasing the blow of Chinese tariffs on an iconic American industry.”

 

Today’s letter marks the Delegation’s latest efforts to advocate for the lobster industry in trade negotiations. In February, the Maine Delegation called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to make the lobster industry a priority in the ongoing trade negotiations with China. In June 2018, the delegation hosted a meeting between top U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) officials and members of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association (MLDA) to discuss the impact of federal trade policies on the state’s lobster industry.

 

Additionally, the Delegation’s June letter noted that the trade war is only one of the challenges facing this vital Maine industry. Specifically, the Delegation referenced an impending bait shortage and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) proposed large whale take reduction efforts, which will have a significant impact on Maine lobstermen. In May, the Delegation wrote a letter urging NOAA leadership to ensure that the science they are relying on is sound and comprehensive, the risk reduction standards are equitable across U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions, and the industry is included and consulted throughout the decision-making process. Earlier this week, the Delegation raised the issue in a letter to President Trump.

 

The full letter can be downloaded HERE or read below:

 

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Hon. Under Secretary Ted McKinney

United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, DC 20250

 

Dear Under Secretary McKinney:

 

We write to ask that as the Department of Agriculture finalizes Agricultural Trade Promotion (“ATP”) Program awards under its aid package for producers affected by trade disruption, you allocate significant ATP funding for the Maine lobster industry.  Retaliatory tariffs have caused a very significant export market for Maine lobster – China – to all but disappear.  ATP funding will help to develop new export markets for Maine lobster, decreasing the blow of Chinese tariffs on an iconic American industry.

 

We refer you to our letter to the President of June 7, 2019 (enclosed), in which we requested that he provide resources and aid to assist with the development of new export markets for Maine lobster.  In addition to annual Market Access Program funding, ATP funding is necessary to help replace the export market for lobster that our state has lost as a result of the tariff situation.  Thank you for your consideration of our request.