Thousands of chicks arrive dead to farmers amid USPS turmoil

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2020, file photo, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, speaks a news conference in Portland, Maine. At least 4,800 chicks shipped to Maine farmers through the U.S. Postal Service have arrived dead in the recent weeks since rapid cuts hit the federal mail carrier's operations, Pingree said. Pingree 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 Wednesday, Aug. 19. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PORTLAND, Maine – At least 4,800 chicks shipped to Maine farmers through the U.S. Postal Service have arrived dead in the recent weeks since rapid 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 Wednesday.

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.”

Henderson told the newspaper 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.

The Postal Service’s media contact for the Eastern U.S. did not immediately return a Press Herald reporter’s message Wednesday.

“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 said, adding that her office has received dozens of complaints from farmers and others trying to raise a small flock of chickens in the backyard.

“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?”