In Lead Up To Vermont Cider Week Leahy Joins Local Cider Makers To Celebrate CIDER Act Passage

BURLINGTON (THURSDAY, Feb. 18, 2016) – Thanks to new legislation passed by Congress, the growing hard cider market in Vermont is poised to get even bigger.  On Thursday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Citizen Cider got a jump start on Vermont Cider Week, touting the recent passage of the CIDER Act – Cider Investment and Development through Excise Tax Reduction Act – which updated federal tax law to make it easier for cider makers to put new, value-added products on the market. The bill language was included in a set of tax provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed Congress at the end of 2015.  Leahy first introduced the bill in 2013 with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In recent years the rising popularity of hard cider has led to significant growth in the industry, driving Vermont’s model of value-added agriculture, partnering local orchards and cider makers.  A national news report quipped that Vermont is primed to become “The Napa Valley of Cider.”   However, antiquated federal laws imposed high taxes on ciders with alcohol content above seven percent or carbonation levels that mirrored sparkling wines such as Champagne.  Because the natural sugar content of apples typically results in higher alcohol levels, most cider makers water down their products and used lower levels of carbonation.  These new changes, along with an improved label approval process included in the bill, will allow cider makers to quickly put new products out to market. 

Leahy said:  “With this bill, we took an idea that came from Vermont, moved it through Congress and will now unlock the creativity of entrepreneurs like Citizen Cider and other cider makers around the state.  The benefits of this bill will also extend to our fruit growers.  By increasing demand for their Vermont-grown apples, we can ensure that Vermont retains its working landscape and rural character.  A bill that helps create jobs, preserve our landscape and increases choices for consumers is certainly a win-win in my mind.”

Leahy, long a leading advocate for expanding value-added agriculture in Vermont, each year spotlights Vermont specialty foods and agricultural products – including cider -- at the highly successful “Taste Of Vermont” exposition on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

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