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Predicting the future of milk and maple

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copyright the Chronicle September 27, 2017


by Elizabeth Trail


CRAFTSBURY — The future is not looking good for Vermont sugarmakers 50 years down the road. But opportunities will open up for dairy farmers — if they can stay in business until then.

That was the takeaway from a gathering last week at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center that took a hard look at what climate change is going to mean for the milk and maple industries in northern Vermont.

Travis Reynolds teaches environmental policy at Colby College in Maine. His parents, John and Carol Reynolds, raise organic beef and tap 7,000 maple trees in Stannard.

He called his talk on the future of sugaring “Looking ahead and learning from the past.”

“The forecast is not an optimistic one,” he said. “It’s entirely possible that my son will see the end of maple syrup production in Vermont.”

First, the climate change piece.

Compared to 50 years ago, Mr. Reynolds said, the sugaring season is already three days shorter than it was. Sugaring now begins about seven days earlier and ends ten days earlier. If that trend continues, there will be years by 2067 when there is no regular sugaring season.

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