With maple season in full swing, Rep. Peter Welch is pushing two bills to promote Vermont's maple industry and make sugaring operations more energy efficient.
"Maple syrup and those who produce it are part of the fabric of Vermont," Welch said. "Their trade goes back generations and is an important part of our economy as well as a key defining characteristic of our state brand. These investments in the maple industry will ensure it remains a strong part of Vermont's economy and identity for generations to come."
Welch's Maple Tapping Access Program would authorize U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants to promote the maple industry in Vermont. Funds would be available for maple-related research as well as marketing syrup and other maple products. Additionally, the grants could be used to open state lands to tapping or provide incentives to private landowners to do so.
Welch's second bill would streamline the grant application process for Vermont farmers working to make sugaring operations more energy efficient. These grants under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) allow producers to install reverse osmosis systems to remove water from sap before it is boiled down to syrup, a process that greatly reduces the amount of energy consumed in the production process.
According to figures compiled by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Vermont led all states in maple syrup production in 2011 with over 1.1 million gallons produced.