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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is asking residents who have received unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have come from China not to open them or plant them and to report the package to the agency.

The type of seeds have not yet been identified and the agency had been notified of several Vermonters who were sent such packages, which it called agricultural smuggling.

The seeds could be invasive species, could introduce diseases to local plants, or could be harmful to livestock, the agency said in social media post this week.

“There is concern that if germinated they could wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects or disease could severely damage crops,” the agency said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The USPS and the postmaster general are getting dragged after the agency tweeted jokes amid ongoing mail delays and its controversial restructuring

Twitter users passionately responded to the USPS attempts at comedy on Monday. Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

  • The USPS on Monday tweeted a series of jokes amid ongoing controversy over the postmaster general's cost-cutting measures.
  • "We weren't going to post a joke about mail, but sometimes you just gotta send it," one of the tweets read.
  • The tweets elicited a myriad of responses, from frustration over lost mail, messages of support for the postal service, and calls for the postmaster general to resign. 
  • The USPS has been embroiled in a high-stakes controversy over the new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's efforts to cut postal service costs, including a recently announced restructuring of the agency's leadership.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The United States Postal Service on Monday tweeted a couple of jokes amid its ongoing struggles, eliciting mixed reactions centered around criticism of the new postmaster general's cost-cutting measures.

"We weren't going to post a joke about mail, but sometimes you just gotta send it," one tweet from the USPS sent Monday read. 

"We weren't sure if we should post a joke about mail, but sometimes you have to push the envelope," it said in a follow-up tweet.

Thousands responded to the tweets with jokes of their own, many of which poked fun at ongoing postal service delays. 

"You mean you were going to make the joke but then it just sat there not being delivered." one person responded.

—Godless Liberal (@politicalpastry) August 10, 2020

"I was gonna make a joke about the mail, but you slowed it down," another tweeted in response.

Some used the viral USPS tweets, which had received many thousands of retweets as of Monday afternoon, to inquire about ongoing package delays.

"I sent a birthday gift by 3 day priority mail over a week ago," one woman tweeted. "I'd like a refund."

—Val Gratias (@val_gratias) August 10, 2020—Sabrina (@Samhain4000) August 10, 2020

 

Some people replied to the postal service account with politically charged statements amid mounting concerns about the agency ahead of the November presidential election. The concern stems from recent cost-cutting measures instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who took over the role in June and was previously a top donor to President Donald Trump.

"WE LOVE YOU WE REALLY HATE DEJOY," one person said in a tweet that garnered more than 1,900 likes and 240 retweets, adding "#SAVEUSPS."

—88daysfuckfacetrumpydumpy (@notmypr35294022) August 10, 2020

Other tweets echoed similar sentiments, with some specifically calling for DeJoy's resignation. 

—Robert Fanney (@robertscribbler) August 10, 2020—HeyNiceSweater (@HeyNiceSweater) August 10, 2020

 

On Friday, the Washington Post reported DeJoy had eliminated or reassigned 23 postal executives including two top officials overseeing the organization's day-to-day operations.

All of this is happening as some states encourage citizens to vote by mail, while Trump and his allies seek to discredit the practice by falsely claiming that it promotes voter fraud.

Earlier this summer, DeJoy prohibited postal service workers from working overtime and instituted other cost-cutting measures, like a hiring freeze, which Democrats worry will weaken the USPS's ability to handle a large number of ballots in the fall. 

The novel coronavirus has presented more challenges to the already cash-strapped federal agency, like a surge in package delivery and "crippling backlogs of letters and packages," according to Vox.

Trump has previously rejected efforts to provide the USPS with bailout funds, but in late July, the US Treasury agreed to lend the agency $10 billion.

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