Thousands of chicks arrive dead to farmers amid USPS changes

Northeast

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — At least 4,800 chicks shipped to Maine farmers through the U.S. Postal Service have arrived dead in recent weeks after cuts hit the federal mail carrier’s operations, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said.

Pingree, a Maine Democrat, is raising the issue of the dead chicks and the losses farms are facing in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and U.S. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sonny Perdue, The Portland Press Herald reported.

Pauline Henderson, who owns Pine Tree Poultry in New Sharon, Maine, told the newspaper she was shocked last week when all of the 800 chicks sent to her from a hatchery in Pennsylvania were dead.

“Usually they arrive every three weeks like clockwork,” she said. “And out of 100 birds you may have one or two that die in shipping.”

Thousands of birds that moved through the Postal Service’s processing center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, were also dead, impacting several farms in Maine and New Hampshire, Henderson said.

Steve Doherty, a spokesman for the USPS, said the agency “can’t locate a claim being filed for this loss.”

Some animals, including live chicks, can be mailed safely under proper conditions.

Pingree said she isn’t sure if Perdue is aware of how the changes in the Postal Service are impacting smaller poultry farmers in the U.S.

DeJoy took control of the agency in June and has since swiftly engineered cuts and operational changes. In Maine, two mail-sorting machines were dismantled at the state’s postal distribution hub.

He announced Tuesday he would halt some changes to mail delivery.

DeJoy is scheduled to testify before the Senate on Friday.

The Postal Service is the only entity that ships live chicks and other small animals and has done so since 1918, according to the service’s website.

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