These questions, undoubtedly, were on the mind of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) when he launched his Twitter screed against the pork-barrel projects included in the omnibus. The syrup-research expenditure made ranked fifth on McCain's list of the ten most egregious wastes of money in the omnibus bill -- a surefire example of the pure backwardness of the appropriators in Congress.
Dig a bit deeper, however, and that $165,000 starts to sound a lot less like a testament to fiscal lunacy.That industry is at a crossroads. While international demand for maple syrup is rising, a poor harvest in 2008 crippled the U.S. supply, and much of that void has been filled by Canadian manufacturers. If domestic producers are to survive -- and maintain U.S. consumers' access to reasonably-priced syrup -- they need a technological breakthrough.