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April 12, 2011

04/13/11 Legislation co-authored by State Rep. Nancy Dembowski (D-Knox) that will benefit Indiana’s mint distilleries is on its way to Gov. Mitch Daniels for final approval.

          House Bill 1451 was approved unanimously by the Indiana Senate earlier this week. Since the bill was not changed in that chamber, it will go directly to the governor for his consideration.

          “If this bill becomes law, it will put into place a study that will help Indiana’s mint distilleries be classified as farming operations, which will reduce the amount of federal regulation they will face,” Dembowski said. “Mint farms are an important part of the local economy, particularly in Starke County, and I am delighted to see that this legislation can help them continue to stay in operation.”

          The measure asks the Environmental Quality Service Council (EQSC) to conduct a study this summer on the actual and potential air emissions created by distilling mint. The EQSC is a panel of lawmakers and private citizens who meet in the interim between legislative sessions to consider issues aimed at improving Indiana’s air, water and soil.

          In addition, the EQSC would determine whether mint distilling should be considered a farming operation and be permitted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

          “Since the late 1800s, Indiana has been one of the top mint producers in the United States, primarily because of our climate and the quality of our soil and water table,” Dembowski said.

          “The industry itself is centered primarily in north central and northwest Indiana, and Starke County is at its heart,” she added. “Each June, I am proud to head over to North Judson and take part in that community’s mint festival.”

          Peppermint and spearmint are grown in Indiana for the oils they produce in glands on their leaves and stems. These oils then are used to flavor such things as chewing gum, candy, and toothpaste and other oral hygiene products.

          “These oils are sent to places like the Wrigley Company and Proctor and Gamble, and a sizable amount goes overseas,” Dembowski noted. “Mint distilling is a $20 million industry in Indiana that employs hundreds of Hoosiers, and I believe the provisions contained in this legislation will provide long-term benefits and keep this industry viable in Indiana.”

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