US government shutdown hurting fish smokers
The United States government has been partially shut down for three weeks leaving 800,000 federal employees without paychecks, but they’re not the only people suffering.
Sullivan Harbor Farm Smokehouse in Hancock, Maine has been struggling since President Donald Trump shut down the government after his attempt to fund a US – Mexico border wall was met by widespread opposition.
The $5.7 billion price tag to build the wall was rejected by Congress, resulting in the longest shutdown in US history.
All areas of the economy have been impacted from parks to airports, medical care and fisheries.
Not a good situation
Sullivan Harbor Farm Smokehouse is waiting for the US Food and Drug Administration to re-open so it can obtain the final paperwork for a re-licence.
“We are sitting here and we have five employees, I have a huge investment, I am trying not to get freaked out. But it’s not a good situation,” said Leslie Harlow, owner of the smokehouse.
“We process about 75,000 pounds (approximately 35 tonnes) of salmon per year from New Brunswick. We use Northern Harvest (owned by Mowi). We were obviously expecting that by now we would be up and running, my suppliers are waiting for me to make the order and my packing company is waiting.”
“All the support staff that you need in fisheries to run, everybody is at a standstill. We are losing money because we are not in operation.
“It’s a stressful situation and it’s one I am not comfortable being in and there is not a lot of help, and there certainly is no help from the Republican administration,” said Harlow.
No one is working
With over 25 years of experience working in fisheries, Harlow has many friends who work in the industry.
“One of my friends called me today. He has a smokehouse. He right now has a whole pallet of haddock at Logan Airport in Boston because no one is working in customs,” said Harlow.
“He was supposed to get a delivery. We are rural here and we have to work out transportation. Who knows what is going to happen to this fish.There is no one to process the order. That’s big. Imagine all the big boys who have imported fish. Not like the airport has commercial coolers.”
A Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States, in which 2,000 respondents were asked if their family had lost income, expected to lose income or relied on any government services that had been shut down.
The poll also asked if they personally knew someone who had lost income, expected to lose income, or relied on government services that are now closed.
More than a third – 38% – of respondents said they met at least one of the criteria, while 37% said they have been unaffected by the shutdown and 25% said they do not know.
American news outlets have reported that the US economy has lost $3.6 billion. If the shutdown continues for another two weeks the economy will lose $5.7 billion, which amounts to the cost of building the US – Mexico wall.