I don't buy the political hay some are making over Cabot's recent logo change. I say this as someone who is neither a fan of Agri-Mark's waste disposal practices in the Cabot area; nor of Bill Sorrell, who seems to be unsubstantially criticized in this case.
Even Governor Shumlin threw a few elbows on behalf of the "wronged" cheesemaker; but suggesting that the Vermont brand needs Agri-Mark/Cabot has the whole formula ass-backwards, and conveys the impression that the governor cares more about big business than little ones.
Agri-Mark/Cabot is to be complimented for proactively changing its logo to more truthfully reflect the origins of its products. Perhaps recognizing that, inevitably, the growth of the brand will take it even further from its Vermont sourcing practices, the company did not wait to be told.
Because of its size and national reputation, many voices seem to be saying that Agri-Mark/Cabot should not be held to the same standard as Vermont Butter & Cheese and other award-winning regional brands. In fact, some are arguing that the 75% Vermont sourced milk standard should be reduced or eliminated entirely. This raises the obvious question of what would be acceptable as the benchmark for "Vermont" branded dairy products? Would 60% be a better number? Or 50%? Should Cabot butter, which contains not a dram of Vermont milk, proudly proclaim a mythical Vermont connection?
Sooner or later, given the trajectory of Cabot, even a lowered standard will become unsupportable as the enterprise grows far beyond the capability of its regional suppliers, perhaps sourcing milk from California or processing it in plants in Wisconsin. We hope for the best for our regional entrepreneurs; but at a certain point, they may no longer be legitimately said to produce strictly "Vermont" products.
I believe there is nothing to prevent Cabot from producing a "Vermont" branded cheddar, for instance; and certifiably sourcing the milk for that single product exclusively from Vermont.
So, why have a standard at all? We didn't for the longest time. But it became apparent that our Vermont entrepreneurs were being competitively handicapped by unscrupulous companies that built their own successes on the Vermont brand while sourcing ingredients from cheaper and potentially lower-quality out-of-state producers. The result threatened a degradation of the valuable brand that our farmers and local entrepreneurs have so carefully nurtured with their own investment over the decades in personal toil for quality control.
It was those same farmers and entrepreneurs who asked their citizen legislature to protect the valuable Vermont brand that they have built. Surely, even those Vermont farmers who are associated with Agri-Mark/Cabot can appreciate this concern.
The name "Cabot" is, in itself, an ongoing reminder of the Vermont history behind the brand. That seems sufficient, given that (according to their own website) the controlling cooperative was created in Delaware, is headquartered in Massachusetts, and sources milk from all over New England. Let the Vermont brand continue to shine, symbolizing the small-scale, responsible husbandry and premium quality that distinguishes the state and it's unique products.