July 25, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that their proposed $12 billion in aid to farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs would not extend to the lobster industry:
“Maine’s lobster industry is a vital piece of our state’s economy, and is inseparable from our state’s identity. I recently spent two days in Stonington, the lobster-landing capital of our state, and what I saw was a reflection of every industry in Maine: hardworking people who want to sell Maine products across the nation and across the globe.
“Unfortunately, these fiercely independent people have now become collateral damage in an escalating international dispute. We never should have been here in the first place – a 25% tariff on Chinese products resulted in a dollar-for-dollar tariff on America’s agricultural sector – and now, the administration is scrambling to offer a bailout to affected industries. But if the administration is hoping to use a $12 billion band-aid to cover the damage inflicted by their misguided trade war, they’re going to need a bigger band-aid – because as of right now, this plan does nothing for the hardworking Maine lobstermen, and processors, and dealers, who are rapidly losing ground to foreign competitors in one of their most valuable export markets – a market that they have spent years developing.
“If the administration drags hardworking Maine people into a situation that threatens their livelihood, then that same administration should step up and make them whole. The inclusion of the domestic lobster industry in this $12 billion plan would help our coastal communities weather this crisis they did not create, but at the end of the day this patch is just that – a patch. The administration should extend relief where it can, but this is not a long-term strategy. They must end this trade war, and make a deal that’s fair for this industry and the hardworking Maine people who rely on lobsters to earn a living.”
Often seen around the Capitol in one of his several lobster ties, Senator King has been a vocal advocate for the lobster industry throughout his time in the Senate. This month, he met members of the lobster industry and local community leaders in Stonington to discuss the impact of retaliatory tariffs on the industry. He has pushed back against proposals that would harm the continued growth and success of the business. Earlier this year, he strongly opposed a Department of Interior proposal that would open up the Gulf of Maine to offshore drilling, and last month he joined Maine’s Congressional delegation to invite the U.S. Trade Representative to Maine to facilitate a dialogue between the agency and Maine’s lobster dealers and processors. He has also sought be an ambassador for the lobster in any way possible; in February, following a push from Senator King, the Unicode Consortium announced that it would add a lobster emoji to the list of available characters. He has also cosponsored the resolution to designate September 25th as “National Lobster Day”, and in September 2017 he focused on the importance of the lobster industry in an episode of his podcast Inside Maine.