Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Just as was the case in the 2011 state legislative session, several bills have been introduced that would exempt certain farms in Maine (including dairy farms and processors) in certain situations from state licensing requirements and food safety regulation. Two of these bills are now up for public comment before the legislature’s Ag Committee, scheduled for Tuesday, May 7th:
The Guild presented testimony to the committee on Tuesday, May 7th. About 20 people spoke in favor of the bills; I was one of two who spoke to oppose them. Several, including the Dept. of Ag spoke neither in favor or opposed but they did offer amendments for the committee to consider.
The overwhelming sense I got from the supporters testimony is that there is no middle ground between small Maine farmers forced to sell their locally produced food illegally, versus the giant multinational corporations who want to control the food supply. It was as if all 70+ of the currently state licensed cheese producers in Maine did not exist. Or, if they did exist, they were in league with Hannaford and Nestle. It was such a disturbing feeling to sit in the midst of people painting me with a tar brush that I let it get to me, and during my presentation I needed to turn to the supporters and remind them that “I am one of you.” The story they told of being a struggling small farmer and food producer in the state was also MY story. But they hissed back at me when I pointed that out, and one person shouted back, “no, you’re with them.”
Regarding the bill to support unlicensed sales of raw milk, supporter after supporter asserted that it was NOT POSSIBLE today, in Maine, to legally sell raw milk.
I will try to keep the Guild updated on this topic as soon as I hear officially what the committee has decided with regard to these two bills. No matter what, the full legislature will still need to vote on them, so please educate your local legislator.
President, Maine Cheese Guild
At our April meeting the members approved supporting the following subsidies in 2013 that relate to the American Cheese Society Conference to be held in Madison, WI between July 31st and August 3rd:
–The Guild will reimburse for ONE Individual Producer membership to ACS (a $199 value) for a Maine Cheese Guild member who applies for that;
[ACS membership is required to submit cheeses to the competition, as well as to attend the conference.]
–The Guild will reimburse any Maine Cheese Guild member who submits entries to the ACS Conference Competition for their first on-time competition entry (due May 17th, a $60 value per participating member);
–The Guild will arrange for and pay up to $500 for a group shipment of all ACS Conference Competition entries from the Maine Cheese Guild to arrive in good condition (if the shipping costs exceed $500, the participants agree to split the additional costs by the number of entries);
–The Guild will reimburse half of the expenses (registration, travel, lodging) up to $900 for FOUR Maine Cheese Guild members to attend the 2013 ACS Conference as part of the Guild’s delegation;
–The Guild will reimburse ALL expenses (conference registration, travel, lodging) up to $1800 for ONE Maine Cheese Guild member to attend the conference as the Guild’s designated representative;
There is no application required to participate in the Guild competition reimbursement and/or group shipment — participants must be a Maine Cheese Guild member in good standing for the time period between the competition entry and the competition itself. Instructions on participating will be posted in a separate Guild web site article.
All applicants must be a Maine Cheese Guild member in good standing for the time period between the request for consideration and the conference itself. The Guild Board will then vote on who will be awarded each stipend, and the selections will be announced by mid-May to allow the designated members time to make their arrangements, including to register for the conference before the Early-Bird deadline.
As has been the case in the past, recipients of stipends to attend the ACS conference will be asked to contribute materials of interest to the Guild at large based on the information delivered at the conference. This material will then be posted on the web site and/or published in a future issue of the Guild newsletter.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLYING FOR A ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP* TO THE American Cheese Society PAID FOR BY THE GUILD:
(*Producer – Professional Individual Membership, worth $199)
1. Please provide short paragraph with a description about your personal history, including why you got into cheese making, what are your cheese making goals (eg: where would you like to see your cheese adventure take you), and how will you use an ACS membership to benefit your cheese making?
Email your application to firstname.lastname@example.org together with the title “ACS MEMBERSHIP”, your name, the name of your cheese operation, your email address, and your physical address BY SUNDAY MAY 5th. The Maine Cheese Guild board will review all applications (unless they are also an applicant) and vote for their choice. You will be notified before SUNDAY, MAY 12th if you have been chosen.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLYING FOR A GUILD SCHOLARSHIP TO ATTEND THE 2013 American Cheese Society CONFERENCE
1. Please provide short paragraph with a description about your personal history, including why you got into cheese making, and what are your cheese making goals (eg: where would you like to see your cheese adventure take you)?
Next, please address these questions (a sentence or two for each would suffice):
2. Why is attending the ACS conference important to you?
3. What three items in the 2013 Conference Agenda interest you the most?
4. How do you plan to share the experience with the Guild?
Email your application to email@example.com together with the title “ACS SCHOLARSHIP”, your name, the name of your cheese operation, your email address, and your physical address BY SUNDAY MAY 5th. The Maine Cheese Guild board will review all applications (unless they are also an applicant) and vote for their choice. You will be notified before SUNDAY, MAY 12th if you have been chosen.
May 16, 2013 – 8:00am-5:00pm
Lunch is included and coffee and snacks in the morning.
Space is limited to the first 30 people. Cost for Guild Members: $30.00 / Non-Guild Members: $60.00
This workshop will cover an overview of sanitation topics such as bacterial pathogens related to dairy products, milking/milk room sanitation, as well as facility sanitation. Ronda Stone from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry will also talk about sanitation from an inspector’s perspective. Other special guests will include Sarah Spring, Spring Day Creamery who will discuss her own recent sanitation issues and how she overcame them. We will also have hands-on activities in the Pilot Plant to take the theory we learned and put it to practice.
For more information about this 1 day training and how to register, please visit this web site: http://umaine.edu/food-health/food-safety/dairy-sanitation-workshop/.
Due to the hands-on activities, we have to limit the attendance to 30 people.
–Beth Calder (581-2791 or firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions in regards to the workshop.
–Melissa Libby if you have registration questions at 1-800-287-7170 or Melissa.Libby1@maine.edu.
The 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:
Read the rest of this entry »
This course is geared towards those who are interested in creating a product that would be USDA or FDA inspected and thus need to be compliant with the written food safety guidelines those entities require (or will require in the case of the FDA). This one day course will cover how to analyze food safety risks and food safety hazards. Participants will learn about HACCP plans v. risk based plans and how to use the best of both to create a culture of food safety. The course costs $125 during pre-registration (up to 5 days before course date) and $145 at the door.
The course will take place on Wednesday April 24 from 9-5 at the Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce on 415 Lisbon St., in Lewiston. Registration and payment information is available at www.dirigoqualitymeats.com
Here’s just another example of how another “commodity” agricultural product can break out of the “commodity” prison with a little ingenuity and a lot of common sense.
More Greek Yogurt ado in the New York Times. It turns out there still may be people who haven’t heard about it, but not for long…
The Maine Sunday Telegram (and associated newspapers) published a good overview of the present state of Maine’s 307 (currently) dairies this past Sunday. It is NOT a bright or positive story, but it is an honest look at a critical keystone of Maine agriculture and the federal and state programs that control much of what dairy farmers are (or are not) paid.
One fact left out of this excellent article is that Maine now asks the Oxford Casino to help fund its price support program. How sad that we depend on gambling revenue to keep fresh local milk in the grocery stores? We need to wake up and be willing to pay the TRUE price of our food, and stop hiding the true cost, which really hides the value of our hard working and dedicated Maine farmers. And if dairy farming doesn’t make economic sense, we should not be surprised that most young Mainers don’t want to go into that field…
The Cheese Reporter reports in their February 8th issue that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), working in conjunction with Health Canada, has released a draft report on their risk assessment of soft-ripened cheese production using pasteurized and raw milk specifically for L. monocytogenes (Listeria). This risk assessment will be used by FDA risk managers to inform their food-safety decisions as they re-evaluate the FDA rules around cheese production.
According to the assessment raw milk cheese presents a higher risk of Listeria contamination than pasteurized milk cheese.
A major finding was that although testing bulk milk used to make raw milk cheese DID reduce the risk significantly, it did NOT reduce the risk as much as testing raw milk cheese lots (which is the current Canadian requirement for raw milk cheeses).
This draft assessment is submitted for comments beginning February 4th, 2013 for 75 days. Comments may be submitted to www.regulations.gov. The docket number is FDA-2012-N-1182