Next Meeting: Feb 15th, 2016 in Farmington

Our meeting on Monday, February 15th will be a little different than usual this year.

We’ve been invited to visit John and Penny Duncan at York Hill Farm (257 York Hill Rd., off Rt. 27 in New Sharon) to tour their facility. Unfortunately they don’t have room at the farm to also host our general meeting so we will be splitting the meeting up into a TOUR first followed by a business meeting in a separate location.

We may also have to limit the number of people who will be touring at any one time, so we actually need to take *reservations* from members who expect to attend this meeting and would like to see York Hill Farm. Right now we are planning for two tours —


–and there’s the possibility that a third tour could be scheduled if enough Guild members respond. Tour reservations will be assigned on a firsts come first serve basis if too many people sign up.

The business meeting will start at 11:30am in Room 101 in the Roberts Learning Center (270 Main St. beside the big Student Center with plenty of parking behind it off High St.) at the University of Maine Farmington. If you are not interested in the tours you are welcome to just show up at the business meeting.

IF YOU WANT TO RESERVE A TOUR SPOT, please email me directly at using the Subject: “Guild Feb 15 Meeting: Reservations Required” and tell me how many people will be coming with you. I’ll get back to you with your reservation time.

The timing on the reservations will be strict — if you are not there when the tour starts you will have to wait for the final tour *if there is still room* on that tour. After your tour you can head to Farmington for the business meeting which is only a few miles from York Hill Farm.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Estate Planning & Generational Transfer Seminar

Thursday, February 4, 2016
9:00 AM – 3:30 PM
Augusta, Maine

This workshop will help farm and forest product families minimize business succession risk and make informed decisions about intergenerational transfer of farmland and farm businesses. The workshop will address details on transition planning, retirement and estate planning, legal approaches to protect assets from taxes, tools you can use to transfer farm assets, and determining your goals to address transfer planning and business transition.

Cost: $15 (includes handouts)

Location: Maine Forest Products Council Bldg (lower level), 535 Civic Center Drive, Augusta, Maine 04330

Click here for more information and to register.

New Sales Tax Takeaway

As many of you already know Maine has substantially changed its sales tax rules regarding food. It’s no longer as straight-forward as groceries (non-taxable) and prepared food (always taxable). The legislature, in its infinite wisdom, now regards some groceries as taxable. The new name for non-taxable food is “grocery staples.”

At our meeting on January 12th one of the members asked how this affects cheese makers because she had heard different things from different people. I promised to look into the question and try to digest the information available.

Attached are two PDFs. One contains the five pages that apply to groceries among the entire revised Sales Tax Reference Guide (linked in its entirety here).

The other document is the revised Instructional Bulletin Number 12 (linked here) for Retailers of Food Products.

There is also a shorter FAQ type document (“Supplemental Information“) based on questions already submitted to the State about the changes.

I recommend reading the Instructional Bulletin and the Supplemental Information because they are more detailed and easier to digest. Be aware that there is now a taxation distinction between “grocery staples” that are altered by the retailer themselves. For example a dairy that mixes chocolate syrup into a bottle of milk to make chocolate milk is considered the SAME as a coffee shop that squirts coffee syrup into a cup of milk they poured from a carton.

There is a PowerPoint presentation meant to summarize the changes in Taxable Food Products (linked here — be warned that it is HUGE and may take a while to download).

Finally, because there is STILL some ambiguity in the Instructional Bulletin, I called the Maine Revenue Service (MRS) Sales Tax Division (207-624-9693). I spoke to Laura Larrabee who then consulted with her boss, Ed Lowell, to clarify the items below.

FYI: Sale Tax (where applicable) on grocery items are 5.5%; sales tax on Prepared Foods is now 8%. This review is meant to cover “Grocery Staples” that would be sold by a cheese maker. If you also sell Prepared Foods there is another Instructional Bulletin (27) that covers Prepared Food.
Continue reading New Sales Tax Takeaway

Guild Statement Related To Local Food Ordinances

logo_200_lowThe Maine Cheese Guild stands by it’s Quality Statement, issued in May 2009, with regard to the Local Food Ordinance proposals we have seen, and to the legislative bills introduced for the 2011 session (LD330 and LD366).

Our testimony against LD330, given to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry at the March hearing on this bill follows:
Continue reading Guild Statement Related To Local Food Ordinances

Cheese Vat for Sale

For Sale
40 gallon stainless steel steam kettle, with cover, hot/cold water spigot, on base cabinet. Cabinet dimensions 33.5″ deep, 36″ wide and 40″ to top of kettle. Also included 120V stirrer motor with wall mount and speed control, two stirrers, two baffles that hang on inside of kettle, 120V circulation pump, 4 stainless jacketed water connection hoses. Kettle Used for cheesemaking for 8 years. $2000.  Further information available at littlefallsfarmcheese@gmail.comDSC06260 DSC06261 DSC06269 DSC06265 DSC06263 DSC06268

Serving the interest of cheese-makers and cheese lovers in Maine and beyond