MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Would fancy grade maple syrup by any other name taste as sweet?
Vermont lawmakers are pondering that question as they consider whether to drop the state’s traditional maple labeling system in favor of an international one.
The change pits tradition versus a desire to be a bigger player in world markets. Vermont is the No. 1 maple syrup producer in the United States, but its unique labeling standards put it at odds with the other big producers, including Canada.
The state Senate last week passed and sent to the House a measure to drop fancy, grade A medium amber, dark amber and grade B. (Fancy is the lightest and mildest, while grade B is the darkest and has the strongest maple flavor.) In their place would be several types sharing a grade A label, with descriptive phrases following: golden color and delicate taste; amber color and rich taste; dark color and robust taste; very dark color and strong taste.
Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, initially argued against the measure before reluctantly going along.
“We should not be following everyone else in lockstep and … giving them the ability to try to pretend that syrup made in another state is anywhere near as good as the syrup made in Vermont,” he said.
Mullin later said he was mollified by assurances that the changes would be phased in over three years and that producers wouldn’t have to throw out containers already printed with the existing labels.
State Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said the changes have largely been pushed by the industry, though the agency has conducted a series of public hearings to address the concerns of the more reluctant producers.
Thanks to improvements in technology and growing interest by landowners, Vermont’s syrup production has roughly doubled in the past decade, to the extent that supply vastly exceeds any demand that would come from a state of about 626,000, Ross said.
“What’s become clear is that the majority of syrup produced in the state of Vermont is sold in national and international markets,” Ross said.
Vermont will maintain its distinct branding by labeling its syrup as coming from the state. Connoisseurs will continue to appreciate that Vermont regulations will continue to require boiling sap for longer than is the case elsewhere, producing a slightly denser product, Ross said. But to continue using a separate grading system would lead to consumer confusion, the secretary added.
Doug Bragg, an eighth-generation syrup producer from East Montpelier, said he was taking the changes in stride.
“Most of our customers are asking, why do we have to do this? There’s a logic to it, no question about it,” Bragg said. “It’s still annoying though.”
Back at the Senate office, where Lt. Gov. Phil Scott was chatting Friday afternoon with the five-member staff, there was broad agreement that people would get used to the changes. The only real debate was over the best grade.
Office assistant Roxy Quero said her preference was for fancy grade, but Scott said he preferred medium amber. Deputy Senate Secretary Steve Marshall said the darker the better for him.
“I usually go with grade B, grade C if I can get it, but you have to know somebody,” Marshall said. “Grade C isn’t sold as syrup at retail; it’s usually use in baked goods or maple candy.
“I’d take double D if you gave me some,” Marshall said.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas