Saturday, 24 February 2018 12:15

OP ED: Maple Producers Offer Farm to Table Opportunity with Maple Weekend

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OP ED: Maple Producers Offer Farm to Table Opportunity with Maple Weekend Supplied Photo

Our state’s unique forestry and climate—freezing nights and daytime thaws in late winter and early spring—make it perfect for maple syrup production.

By all accounts, the industry is showing signs of growth. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, maple syrup production has doubled since 2012 and last year, the number of taps climbed to 2.65 million which was the most state producers have recorded since 1944. Last year, these millions of taps helped New York produce more syrup than any other state except Vermont. New York's maple syrup production constituted about 18% of the national total.

Not only have New York maple producers collectively increased production but they have embraced agri-tourism events with the successfully marketed Maple Weekends. These weekends have contributed to maple syrup’s popularity. This year Maple Weekends will be March 17-18 and March 24-25. During these days, the public has the opportunity to see acres of tapped trees, the equipment used to collect the sap, and learn about the process which turns sap into syrup. Many also offer pancake breakfasts and even popular 5K races. This industry collaboration has helped to grow the public’s appreciation for maple syrup, provide an opportunity for the public to meet the producers, and also has helped to increase retail sales. The New York State Maple Association and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets promotes the weekends which accommodate an estimated 400,000 visitors throughout the state at various maple farms. These events are contributing to the estimated $141 million economic impact the industry is generating each year.

To find a Maple Weekend event nearby or learn more about maple syrup, visit mapleweekend.nysmaple.com. The site also features a number of videos for young children to learn about maple syrup and links to curriculum for teachers. Cornell Cooperative Extension has also partnered with the maple industry and provides assistance to those who would like to start producing syrup or for those who would like to make products with syrup like candies or cream. More information on value-added products and maple workshops can be found here, http://blogs.cornell.edu/cornellmaple/.

There is a new opportunity for maple producers to obtain a “New York State Grown and Certified” label which is the same label the Department of Agriculture and Markets uses to promote other New York products. This label allows producers to be listed on the state’s searchable database to be marketed to potential customers looking for New York state produce. Producers interested in learning more about how to become New York State Grown & Certified and how to qualify can visit https://certified.ny.gov/ or contact the Department of Agriculture and Markets at (800) 554-4501 or email [email protected]

In the past, the New York State maple producers have received state funding in the budget to help with educational outreach and tourism opportunities. I support this funding because I have seen firsthand how a small investment can make a big difference for many farms and small businesses. If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

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