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Welch visits with local dairy, spirits makers

MIDDLEBURY — Rep. Peter Welch this past Friday convened a meeting of Vermont’s distillery industry leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing this growing sector of Vermont’s economy. The Democratic Congressman also visited the Agri-Mark cheese-making plant while in Middlebury.
At the meeting of the distillers at Stonecutter Spirits headquarters off Exchange Street in Middlebury, Welch announced his support for bipartisan legislation to provide tax incentives for Vermont’s distilleries.
“Vermont’s distilling industry exemplifies Vermont’s entrepreneurial culture. These vital small businesses are creating good, local jobs all over the state,” Welch said. “I am happy to support this legislation, which will give distillers a boost so they can continue to innovate, expand and succeed.”
Under current law in the distilled spirits industry, 54 percent of an average distiller’s revenues go to taxes and fees. The Distillery Innovation and Excise Tax Reform Act (HR. 2520), would bring distillers on par with the tax rates enjoyed today by brewers and vintners.
The bill would reduce the current federal excise tax from the current $13.50 per proof gallon to $2.70 on the first 100,000 proof gallons produced by a distillery. Any gallon produced over the 100,000 threshold would be taxed at $9.00.
“A lower federal excise tax allows distillers to continue to strengthen the Vermont brand by introducing more high-quality products and marketing them in Vermont and throughout the United States,” said Jeremy Elliott, co-owner of Smugglers’ Notch Distillery and President of the Vermont Distilled Spirits Council. “This positive exposure and association benefits all Vermont-made products. A big thanks to Rep. Welch for his support on this effort.”
In addition to Elliot, Welch was joined on Friday at the roundtable by Sivan Cotel and Sas Stewart, co-owners of Stonecutter Spirits; Leo Gibson of Whistlepig Whiskey, which is based in Shoreham; Harold Faircloth and Tim Danahy, owners of Green Mountain Distillers in Stowe; and Mimi Buttenheim, president of Waitsfield-based Mad River Distillers, among others.

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