Thousands of chicks being delivered to New England farms are arriving dead amid Postal Service delays, horrified farmers are reporting.
Maine farmer Haden Gooch told Bloomberg that he has received 500 dead chicks in his last two shipments. Over six years of farming, he can’t remember losing more than 25 in a shipment before.
“I’m kind of freaked out. For me, that’s a significant loss,” Gooch said.
Poultry farmer Pauline Henderson told the Portland newspaper that all 800 chicks sent to her from a hatchery in Pennsylvania were dead by the time they arrived. She said thousands of other chicks died on their way to other farms in Maine and New Hampshire.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said her office has received dozens of complaints from farmers and from Maine residents who raise chickens in their backyards. Pingree is sending a letter Friday to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue, asking them to take action immediately.
“Imagine, you have young kids and they are getting all excited about having a backyard flock and you go to the post office and that’s what you find,” Pingree told the Press Herald.
Since 1918, @USPS has handled chicks safely and humanely. Only after Postmaster DeJoy started slowing down mail delivery have small farmers suffered economic and emotional losses of their chicks. DeJoy needs to answer for this when he testifies before Congress tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/MMjSLD6FZK
— Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) August 20, 2020
Chicken hatcheries have long relied on the mail to deliver newly hatched chicks. Typically, remarkably few fail to survive.
The vast number of dead baby birds are a horrifying consequence of what Democratic lawmakers say is deliberate sabotage by President Donald Trump and his handpicked postmaster general to destabilize the USPS ahead of a deluge of mail-in votes amid the COVID-19 crisis. Trump has said he believes mail-in votes favor Democrat Joe Biden.
Pingree said the chicks were victims of the “chaos they’ve created at the post office [that] nobody thought through when they were thinking of slowing down the mail.”
Trump last week admitted he is blocking a desperately needed infusion of funds to the cash-strapped Postal Service to cripple mail-in voting by Americans hoping to avoid the risk of COVID-19 at polling stations.
DeJoy banned overtime and imposed new limits on mail delivery times in an internal memo last month. In addition, the USPS began dismantling some 15% of its automated mail-sorting machines that help speed delivery — and scores of letter collection boxes in a number of states were ripped out.
After an outcry, DeJoy promised that he’ll hold off on further cuts until after the election. But he isn’t reversing cuts or bringing back eliminated equipment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday.
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