Would fancy grade maple syrup by any other name taste as sweet?

Vermont lawmakers are wrestling with that question as they consider whether to drop the state’s traditional maple syrup-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 U.S.

Gone would be labels such as fancy, grade A medium amber and grade B. In their place would be several types sharing a grade A label, with descriptive phrases added, such as golden color and delicate taste; amber color and rich taste; dark color and robust taste; very dark color and strong taste.

The changes could be made unilaterally by the state Agency of Agriculture, but it has asked for backing in the form of a legislative resolution.

The state Senate last week passed the measure and sent it to the House.

Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, initially argued against the measure before reluctantly going along, saying 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.

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