Tell Congress: Reduce Food Waste Now

Nearly 50 million Americans, including more than 15 million children, are currently going hungry. As the richest nation in the world, it’s tragic that so many live in food insecure homes.

At the same time, 40% of all food in America is wasted. If we reduced the amount of food we throw away by just 15%, we could feed nearly 25 million hungry people.

I recently introduced landmark legislation to combat hunger and protect our environment by reducing food waste across the country. My comprehensive bill includes a provision that would reform the “sell by” date most of our food carries. We all know that food is still safe and healthy far past that date—sometimes even years later—but these dates are set by manufacturers, some of whom are looking to turn a profit by selling more product when you throw yours away.

Click here to sign the petition on CREDO Mobilize urging Congress to take action to reduce food waste now.

Pingree: Trans-Pacific Partnership would benefit multinational corporations at citizens’ expense

The free-trade deal doesn’t offer Maine companies a level playing field, and it could deprive Maine workers of jobs, the congresswoman says.

In New Zealand on Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is set to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement among 12 countries in Asia and North and South America. President Obama now has at least 30 days to submit the TPP to Congress for a vote.

Ever since TPP negotiations started, I have been worried by its possible consequences for our state. My concerns only grew when the text was finally released last fall. Rest assured, I plan to vote against the TPP when it comes up for a vote, and here are a few reasons why.

To begin with, I strongly disagree with the closed-door process that led to this agreement. Negotiations took place in secret with a total lack of transparency. Members of Congress and the public were left in the dark about its details until a short time ago and weren’t given a chance to voice feedback. Instead, U.S. negotiators relied on advisers from some of the largest corporations in the country.

Moreover, Congress has passed legislation to “fast track” the agreement. This means that it will get only an up-or-down vote, with limited debate and no opportunity to offer amendments. I strongly opposed the fast track legislation and can’t believe Congress consented to being a rubber stamp for an agreement that has so many implications for our constituents.

My fear is that Maine will suffer the same ill effects we have under the North American Free Trade Agreement – but on a much larger scale. The TPP would be the largest free-trade agreement in U.S. history; some have called it “NAFTA on steroids.”

After 20 years under NAFTA, you’d be hard pressed to find many in Maine who think our state benefited from that agreement. Since it was signed, the U.S. trade deficit has increased and Maine has lost many good-paying jobs – especially in manufacturing – both to foreign competition and to corporations sending jobs to lower-paying countries.

This trend would continue under TPP. A prime example is that the agreement lifts tariffs on athletic shoes made in Vietnam – threatening the future of American manufacturer New Balance and the hundreds of people it employs in Maine.

I’m certainly not opposed to trade, and I applaud Maine businesses that export their products overseas. But the TPP doesn’t do enough to establish an equal playing field for them. Other countries in the agreement don’t have the rigorous labor, environmental or food-safety standards that we do in the United States. The TPP does little to raise the bar for those countries, placing American jobs at a disadvantage.

But one of my biggest concerns with the TPP is that it could actually lower those standards in the United States. In a recent case under NAFTA, Canada and Mexico argued that country-of-origin labeling laws on beef and pork in the U.S. place their products at a competitive disadvantage.

The World Trade Organization sided with these two countries, threatening heavy tariffs on U.S. products if the labels were not removed. Although I was strongly opposed, Congress voted to repeal these common-sense regulations to avoid the penalty.

Even worse, the TPP gives private corporations the right to sue governments over regulations that they think are barriers to trade. These disputes aren’t settled in court, by the way, but by a panel of trade attorneys.

This kind of process threatens the sovereignty of our government and hamstrings our ability to respond to emerging issues and the will of our people. Members of Congress should be making decisions based on their benefit to the people they represent – not out of fear of how foreign corporations will react.

So-called free-trade agreements come at a cost. While multinational companies are poised to reap the benefits of the TPP, American workers, consumers and citizens will be the ones to foot the bill. For these reasons, and many more, I will be voting against it.

Originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

Save the Monarch butterfly

In 1996, an estimated 1 billion monarch butterflies migrating to forests in central Mexico covered nearly 50 acres. But in 2013, they only covered the area about the size of a football field.

Studies show that, due to the widespread spraying of toxic herbicides made by Monsanto and other agrochemical manufacturers, the monarch butterfly population is on the brink of collapse. But there’s hope to save this iconic black-and-orange butterfly from extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering listing monarchs as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) which would secure stronger protections for the butterfly and its habitat. We must act now to convince the agency to protect monarchs before it’s too late.

Click here to add your name to my petition urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the monarch as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

Take Chellie’s 2015 Survey

With new Republican majorities in the House and Senate—and GOP leadership poised to rollback critical progressive legislation—it’s important now more than ever to get your opinion on what’s most important to you and your family this year.

Whether you care most about creating new jobs here in Maine, expanding health care to all Americans, promoting local food and farming, or protecting our environment, your opinions will help me do my job better for you, your family and folks across our state and country.

Please click here to take this quick survey and let me know your top priorities for me in 2015.

Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink

​Chellie was featured in Fortune and Food & Wine as the #2 “Most Innovative Woman in Food and Drink.”

Pingree has made food policy reform one of her big issues in Congress, pushing for legislation that supports local, sustainable agriculture. She introduced the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act last year with the intention of getting as many of its provisions as possible—such as improved insurance for organic and diversified growers—folded into the federal farm bill. (When the bill passed, many of her initiatives were there.) Pingree can be a strong advocate for farmers in large part because she’s one, too: Some 40 years ago she started an organic farm on North Haven, an island off the coast of Maine. In 2008, she bought a new farm on the island that supplies a restaurant and inn she owns and operates.

Paid for by Pingree for Congress