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US agriculture secretary talks storm damage with Maine farmers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (left) met with Rep. Chellie Pingree and Maine farmers to discuss the damage from recent extreme weather events.
Kaitlyn Budion
/
Maine Public
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (left) met with Rep. Chellie Pingree and Maine farmers to discuss the damage from recent extreme weather events.

Supporting Maine farmers in the face of ongoing damages from more frequent extreme weather events was the focus of a discussion on Monday with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He spoke with U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and Maine farmers.

The event came as farmers work to recover from December's major storm while bracing for another this week. But even before these storms, farmers faced several significant challenges last year. Farmer Penelope Jordan noted the late spring frost and rainy summer, calling it the "season from hell."

Vilsack said he saw the determination of Maine farmers in the face of these events.

"The great resilience of Maine producers and of organizations and entities that are trying to support Maine producers as they go through a series of disasters that are unprecedented," Vilsack said.

He said agencies need to rethink how they define disasters, as weather events increasingly cause significant damage in multiple ways.

Pingree said that the extreme weather is causing cumulative damage to farms.

"When you talk about the extreme weather, this is beyond something any individual farmer can control," she said.

Pingree said that Maine has become a poster child for many renewable energy projects, and is reaching a similar state in responding to extreme weather.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.