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Trump's Post Office Chaos Leads to Deaths of Thousands of Chicks Shipped to Maine Farmers

Trump's Post Office Chaos Leads to Deaths of Thousands of Chicks Shipped to Maine Farmers
Chicks shipped to Maine are arriving dead amid post office chaos. HerbertT - Eigenproduktion / CC BY-SA 3.0

Trump administration cuts to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) have had tragic consequences for Maine farmers and their chicks.

Since 1918, the USPS has been the only organization that will ship live chicks and other small animals. Maine farmers have long relied on this service to order chicks from hatcheries in other parts of the country, but, this summer, at least 4,800 of those chicks have arrived dead, the Portland Press Herald reported.

"We could hear a few, very faint peeps," Maine resident Rhiannon Hampson told The New York Times of her experience picking up chicks from the post office. "Out of 500, there were maybe 25 alive. They were staggering. It was terrible."

In another incident, Pauline Henderson of Pine Tree Poultry in New Sharon, Maine said all 800 chicks she ordered from a hatchery in Pennsylvania arrived dead.

"We've never had a problem like this before," Henderson told the Portland Press Herald. "Usually they arrive every three weeks like clockwork. And out of 100 birds you may have one or two that die in shipping."

The post office has been hit by a one-two punch this year, The New York Times explained. First, the coronavirus pandemic both dramatically increased package orders and sickened the staffers who would handle them. Then, newly-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy instituted a series of cuts and service changes beginning in June that have slowed and disrupted deliveries, The Associated Press explained. In Maine, two mail-sorting machines at its distribution hub were dismantled.

Democratic Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree called out the changes in a letter to DeJoy and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

"It's one more of the consequences of this disorganization, this sort of chaos they've created at the post office and nobody thought through when they were thinking of slowing down the mail," Pingree told the Portland Press Herald. "And can you 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?"

DeJoy's changes included the dismantling of sorting equipment, reducing trips by mail carriers and the eradication of overtime.

DeJoy said Tuesday he would suspend the changes until after the November election following an outcry from Democrats, state attorneys general and civil rights groups, The New York Times reported. The groups were concerned that the changes could disrupt mail-in voting, which is likely to be high because of the pandemic.

However, it is not clear if DeJoy will also reverse measures already put in place, such as the destruction of mail sorting machines.

DeJoy was a major donor to President Donald Trump before being put in charge of the post office this spring. Trump has also spoken out against the USPS and blocked $25 billion in emergency aid for the agency, admitting he wanted to curb mail-in voting, according to The Associated Press.

However, some rural Americans have noted that, by attacking the post office, the administration is actually harming its base. Rural areas disproportionately rely on the USPS in order to send and receive mail.

"This is an attack on a tried-and-true service that rural America depends on," Ohio farmer and former Trump supporter Chris Gibbs told The New York Times. "It pulls one more piece of stability, predictability and reliability from rural America. People don't like that."

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