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Billy Bob Faulkingham of Winter Harbor is a lobsterman and represents District 136 in the Maine House of Representatives.
I am a fifth-generation lobster fisherman from Winter Harbor. Like fellow fisherman Jason Joyce of Swan’s Island, who recently spoke at the Republican National Convention, I did not support Donald Trump in 2016. When I’m wrong, I will admit it. I feel I need to set the record straight and give credit where credit is due.
In a recent opinion column, David Sullivan wrote that in 2016 the lobster industry was flourishing. That is true. What he fails to mention is that the lobster industry continued to flourish. Because of the Trump economy, 2017, 2018 and 2019 were three of the top six years in the history of the lobster industry for value landed. As a matter of fact, in 2019, lobstermen saw the highest per pound price ever. It wasn’t even close, at $4.82 it was nearly 20 cents higher than the next closest year on record.
His column went on to claim that China was the largest buyer of U.S. lobster. In Maine, China only accounted for about 30 percent of export value at the height of trade. This was about half of the number one importer at that time, which was Canada. He then went on to lump in the European Union tariff as part of that so-called trade war, even though that tariff was imposed during the Obama administration.
Rather than go on debunking all the erroneous claims in Sullivan’s column, I would like to explain what President Trump has done for our industry. Trump invited the president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, Kristan Porter, to a roundtable meeting with other fisheries stakeholders.
It is unprecedented for our industry to receive this much attention and sit at the table with the president of the United States. Through that meeting, our industry brought to the president’s attention our trouble with the North Atlantic right whale rules and our tariff troubles with China and the EU. Trump promised action and almost immediately delivered.
Trump directed the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to include the lobster industry in federal bailouts intended for farmers impacted by the Chinese tariffs. He wrote a memorandum holding China accountable to their agreement of exclusions from retaliatory tariffs on U.S. lobster that had been promised in his landmark “Economic Trade Agreement Between the Government of the United States and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.” Most recently he ended the trade war with the European Union and had all tariffs removed on American lobster.
When we needed help the most, not only did Trump throw us a lifeline, he showed up with a rescue boat.
Trump has nominated two Supreme Court Justices and over 300 judges to lower courts. These are judges committed to upholding the Constitution, not legislating from the bench. If Joe Biden wins, he will likely nominate judges who favor eco-extremists over Maine’s lobster industry.
For the lobster industry to have an ally in the White House working for us, the choice for Maine could not be any clearer. That choice is Donald Trump for president.