Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the department to provide federal support to the 14 Maine organic dairy farms who were recently notified that their contracts will not be renewed by Horizon Organic, a subsidiary of the multinational corporation Danone. Their letter reiterates the recommendations put forth by Governor Mills and the Maine Department of Agriculture.
“This decision will harm not only the hardworking families that operate these farms, but also Maine’s agricultural economy. We fully support Governor Mills’ request for federal assistance and action to ensure that the 14 Maine dairy farms affected by this decision will have the support and resources they need to survive,” the delegation wrote. “In addition, we strongly agree with Gov. Mills request for the issuance of a final rule on the Origin of Livestock – for which we have been advocating for years. We ask that you move swiftly to finalize this rule in order to prevent further harm to the organic dairy farmers who have been put at a serious and unfair disadvantage while waiting for this process to conclude.”
The Maine Delegation’s recommendations included providing a three-month grace period on all USDA loans for impacted producers; directing available COVID-19 relief and other federal resources towards financial support and related infrastructure needs; supporting regional and state-specific responses; addressing the labor shortage in milk hauling; and issuing a final rule on the Origin of Livestock. The delegation also signed onto a similar region-wide letter with members from across the Northeast.
Click HERE to read the full letter to USDA on behalf of the Maine Delegation.
Click HERE to read the full letter to USDA on behalf of members across the Northeast.