MONTPELIER, Vt. (CBS Washington) — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is attempting to create a sticky situation for those who sell phony Vermont maple syrup.
The Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement Act — or MAPLE Act for short — is his proposed solution to the problem.
According to a release posted on his official website on Oct. 20, Leahy is backing the new legislation that would call for a maximum of five years in prison for anyone caught selling or attempting to sell any syrup product labeled as authentic maple syrup, but proven not to be the real deal.
“Vermonters take pride in the natural products our state produces, and I have been alarmed by the growing number of individuals and businesses claiming to sell Vermont maple syrup when they are in fact selling an inferior product that is not maple syrup at all,” Leahy said in the release. “This is fraud, plain and simple, and it undermines a key part of Vermont’s economy.”
Presently, such an act is only viewed as a misdemeanor in the eyes of the law. If caught, perpetrators could face a one-year penalty, but such matters are usually handled by slapping fines on the offending parties.
Some faux maple syrup purveyors reportedly even factor these costs into the bottom lines of their respective businesses.
Those who support the MAPLE Act, such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and other politicians from maple-producing states, say that the economic implications of fraudulent maple syrup production makes this issue worthy of consideration.
“Maine is the third largest producer of pure maple syrup in the country … (which brings) in nearly $11 million to our state each year,” Collins said in the release on Leahy’s site. “Fake labeling not only hurts this growing agricultural industry, but also defrauds consumers who have the right to know exactly what they are purchasing.”