November 03, 2009
Commissioner Receives Maple Task Force Report
Identifies Ways to Increase Production, Land Used, Producers & Market Share
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today received the Maple Task Force’s Final Report, which includes a summary of the obstacles and opportunities facing the industry, as well as four recommendations on how to grow the industry to become the leading maple producer in the country.
“As a maple producer myself, I know first hand some of the challenges that face this industry, and I know there are also numerous opportunities to grow this industry,” the Commissioner said. “I appreciate the time this task force spent in researching these issues and putting forth recommendations that will lay the foundation to move this industry onward and upward. New York State has the potential to be the leading maple producer in the country, and by working together as this group did, I believe it can be achieved.”
The Task Force concludes in the report that there is tremendous potential for growth in production and an unmet demand for New York maple products. Currently, New York State producers only utilize .5 percent of the nearly 300 million potential taps. According to one Cornell study, if New York were to tap its maple trees at the same rate that Vermont does, New York could quadruple its current production level to 1.2 million gallons of maple syrup annually.
The group, which was charged with addressing the issues facing the maple industry in the State, also identified several obstacles that limit the growth of the industry. The group noted that of the 1,500 maple producers in New York State, well over half of them are small scale producers or hobbyists. With an industry primarily made up of small producers, the industry lacks a unified identity for marketing purposes and is unable to fill large orders requested by major retailers.
To overcome these challenges and move the industry forward, the Task Force is making the following recommendations to the Commissioner, some of which they have already started working on:
1. Increase the number of producers and the size of their operations through education, financial incentives, and technical assistance.
2. Increase the amount of land used for maple production by educating land owners about the benefits of leasing, and investigating the options to tapping sugar maples on state land.
3. Increase productivity of current producers through the use of new technology, such as reverse osmosis machines and new check-valve spout adapters. The Task Force looked into the USDA Rural Energy for America Program grants and this fall, 15 New York maple producers received a total of $89,833 in grants for reverse osmosis and energy efficient upgrades.
4. Identify a large bottling plant and develop a marketing strategy and brand for New York maple products to market and fill large orders from major retailers. Through the New York State Maple Producers Association, a voluntary container assessment has been established to help raise funds for such work, and a new marketing campaign, “New York Maple. Taste the Tradition.” was unveiled during the New York State Fair in August.
Task Force Chair David Campbell said, “The Task Force members took a good hard look at New York’s maple industry; and did an excellent job in identifying opportunities for growth and for filling expanding New York markets. The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants awarded last month are a good example of how the Task Force succeeded in bringing new resources to the table to benefit our state’s maple industry.” Campbell is also the President of the New York State Maple Producers Association and a partner in Mapleland Farms of Salem.
The Task Force was created in March 2009 to address the issues facing the maple industry in the State. The group of thirteen industry representatives met three times and heard numerous presentations from state and federal government agencies, Cornell and a marketing firm. A copy of the full report can be found at http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/ad/2009-Maple-Task-Force-Report.pdf.
New York is currently the third largest maple producing state in the nation, behind Vermont and Maine. With 1.5 million taps, New York producers made 362,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2009, up 10 percent from the year prior. The value of New York maple syrup produced in 2008 was $13.9 million with an average price of $42.40 per gallon.
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