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Hancock salmon facility hurting amid government shutdown

Sullivan Harbor Farm’s future is currently limbo due to an FDA review that’s been put on hold due to the government shutdown.

Sullivan Harbor Farm in Hancock was expecting to re-open its smoked salmon facility before the start of 2019. That’s now been put on hold because of the federal government shutdown.

“We just want to open. We want to do what we know how to do. We’d like to see our equipment all up and running again,” said Sullivan Harbor Farm owner Leslie Harlow.

Harlow was hoping to have the smoked salmon facility open its doors to customers after being closed under previous ownership in 2015. Harlow took over the facility in early 2016 and has been working to have their award-winning salmon available once again.

“Everybody is anxiously waiting for us to be back in business, and we can’t and it’s very difficult,” said Harlow.

Sullivan Harbor Farm is a four-person operation. To make ends meet for the shop, its business for the past two years has come from a gift shop in the front half of the store. Now employees are wondering when they can once again can be back working with seafood and having consistent income.

“I don’t have any income,” said operations manager Deborah Sargent-Butterwick. “The people who we work with have been waiting, doing part time jobs here and there, hanging on, wanting to be open with a business that has such potential."

The FDA inspected Sullivan Harbor Farm last month and collected samples for testing. Harlow was under the impression it would only take two weeks for results to released and for the shop to be re-opened. Harlow even got in contact with the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce to plan a re-opening event.

“She actually came in here in December and said, ‘we’re back up, we’re going to start selling in the famers market, we’re going to have the facility open,'” said Gretchen Wilson, executive director of the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce.

This issue has now left Harlow frustrated that she still isn’t able to be back and operational. “It’s just appalling that there’s so little regard from Washington right now on the importance the federal agencies have on many of our lives,” Harlow said.

Once the federal government shutdown has ended, it will likely take weeks before Sullivan Harbor Farms is fully operational.