Letter: Maine tax policy unfair to horticulture

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Despite numerous legislative efforts over the past 10-plus years (which have all had support by the Legislature), the Appropriations Committee has again refused to accommodate the inclusion of horticulture in the definition of agriculture within the Maine state sales tax code as part of the governor’s supplemental budget recommendations. 

In doing so, the choice is made to continue forward with a punitive and unjust double taxation policy – for our industry and for our customers. Virtually all other manufacturers of product are protected from this in the current law.  We must pay sales taxes on the goods used to produce our plants and then charge our customers another sales tax when they purchase.

It is quite plain and simply unfair policy. It is time that the State of Maine stepped up to do the right thing.  Every other state in the nation as well as the Federal government recognizes that growing plants is a form of agriculture in statutory regulations of this kind. 

Succeeding in small business is challenge enough in Maine. For over 60 years we have managed to sustain and grow a family owned business which is valued by our customers and supports three generations of our family as well as valued employees. Petunias are “agriculture” as much as other crops and should be fairly treated as such by the Maine State government.

Thomas A. Estabrook
Estabrook’s Garden Centers
Yarmouth, Scarborough & Kennebunk