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Buck-Taylor Supports Legislation to Grow State’s Maple Syrup Industry

May 10, 2014

HARTFORD — Legislation co-sponsored by state Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor that aims to expand the maple syrup market in Connecticut has been approved by the state legislature.

Under the legislation (H.B. 5340), a private landowner that allows an enterprising maple sugar producer to tap trees on his property would be protected from civil liabilities for injuries suffered on that land. Advocates say the legislation would make private landowners feel more comfortable with giving sap harvesters access to their trees, and in turn allow those sugar producers to grow their businesses by increasing their typically small inventories.

“This proposal is economic development—pure and sweet,” said Buck-Taylor, a member of the Environment Committee who represents New Milford. “This will further fuel the state’s blossoming retail agricultural market, steering our state toward competing with the more substantial maple syrup market to our north.”

Organizations associated with maple-sugaring activities support the legislation, including the Maple Syrup Producers Association of Connecticut, which reports that only one-tenth of 1 percent of the state’s eligible trees are tapped. Compared to Vermont (4 percent of maple-sugaring trees tapped) and Quebec (33 percent of maple-sugaring trees tapped) Connecticut’s maple syrup production suffers from competitive lag.

The legislation received unanimous support in the House through a 142-0 vote, and members of the state senate approved it via consent late Wednesday.

“I was thrilled to see this bipartisan show of support for locally-based agribusinesses, including those in western Connecticut,” Buck-Taylor said. “Our state is rightly considered a difficult place to run a business, but the legislature can chip away at that constrictive reputation through proposals like this that send a positive message.”

The legislation awaits the governor’s signature.