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Monday, 28 December 2015 16:12

New federal law eases regulations on hard cider producers

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Cider producers in West Michigan and nationwide could have an easier time making and labeling their products under federal legislation that was signed into law on Dec. 18.

A year-end federal tax and spending package that passed through Congress in mid-December included language previously spelled out in the Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulations (CIDER) Act. The new law provides cider producers with clearer rules governing the taxation and labeling of their alcoholic beverages.

“It’s really a matter of getting the regulation where it should be to begin with,” said Paul Vander Heide, president of Spring Lake-based Vander Mill LLC and president of the Michigan Cider Association.

The new law increases the allowed level of dissolved carbon dioxide in hard cider, giving producers more room to make their products without worrying about the cider being taxed at the much higher rate with champagne.

“Originally, I think it was an unintended consequence of a tax (that) was meant for imported champagnes which carried a high value,” Vander Heide said.

Previously, the dissolved carbon dioxide standard allowed cider to be only slightly above zero before the tax was applied. Additionally, producers struggled with compliance because the amount of carbon dioxide varies from batch to batch, Vander Heide said.

“This adds a lot more clarification and flexibility for the industry,” he said.

The new law also increases the allowed alcohol threshold for cider before it’s required to be labeled as a specialty wine from the present 7 percent alcohol by volume to 8.5 percent. Raising that cap benefits producers of some specialty ciders made with apples that naturally ferment above the previous threshold, Vander Heide said.

“The increase gives these producers the ability to call their product what it is (cider) rather what it’s not (a specialty wine),” he said.

Read 2130 times Last modified on Monday, 11 January 2016 13:04

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