Chellie Pingree ’79 is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Maine's 1st congressional district since 2009.Chellie Pingree ’79 is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Maine's 1st congressional district since 2009.Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has played a variety of roles in her life including mother, farmer, politician, and small business owner. Her long history in organic farming from growing vegetables to raising livestock make her a powerful advocate for sustainable farmers.

Pingree was the first woman elected to represent the 1st district of Maine and has served on the House Agriculture Committee. She currently sits on the House Appropriations Committee, serving on the Subcommittee on Agriculture and the Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment; where she works to reform federal policy to better support American agriculture, including sustainable, organic, and locally focused farming. 

Congresswoman Pingree has focused much of her time on working to positively impact many aspects of the agricultural system. Her contributions can be found in a variety of pieces of legislation including the 2014 Farm Bill, the 2017 Food Recovery Act, and the 2016 Food Date Labeling Act.

She has had numerous appointments both internationally and domestically, traveling around the states to countries like Hungary and Bosnia. Congresswoman Pingree has been awarded numerous awards including the “2017 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award” and the “2012 Woman of the Year Award” from Emerge Maine.

The Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center recently had the opportunity to interview Congresswoman Pingree on a variety of topics ranging from organic agriculture to legislation on Capitol Hill.

NYC Food Policy Center (FPC): We’ve read that you’ve owned and worked an organic farm for the last 40 years. What inspired you start an organic farm?

Congresswoman Pingree (CP): It goes all the way back to reading this book “Living the Good Life” by Helen and Scott Nearing who were early back-to-the-landers in Vermont. In the early 1970s, a lot of people came to Maine to live off the land and farm sustainably. That is when I first came here and became interested in sustainable farming. I lived in a little cabin with no running water and electricity for a few years and decided I would be far better off if I learned a little bit more about farming and things of that nature. I went to the College of the Atlantic and started to study more about plant science and agriculture. That got me started.

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