WASHINGTON, DC (release) - Friday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that his legislation, the Maple Tapping Access Program (Maple TAP) Act, has passed the Senate as part of the 2012 Farm Bill. This legislation would provide grants to states that create programs to help maple farmers access trees that are currently untapped on private lands. The bill creates grants to states to support the domestic maple syrup industry through the promotion of related research, education, natural resource sustainability and marketing, as well as the expansion of maple-sugaring activities.
New York currently taps less than 1 percent of the state’s nearly 300 million maple trees, forcing the U.S. to import four times as much maple syrup as it produces. The state has not been able to take full advantage of its maple resources in part because nearly three quarters of the tappable maple trees are on privately owned land, potentially leaving over $80 million worth of maple sap inside the trees. Despite having 200 million fewer maple trees than New York, the Canadian province of Quebec taps roughly a third of its maple trees and is able to put out over 40 million more maple taps every year, cementing its standing as the world’s leader in syrup production. This Senate-passed bill will encourage private land owners to open their lands to maple tapping, while also encouraging market promotion, research and education surrounding the industry, all while helping to create jobs in New York and provide an economic boost to the region.
“The passage of the Maple TAP Act as part of the Senate’s Farm Bill is a sweet success for Upstate New York and Hudson Valley maple producers as well as the local economy and jobs in the maple-rich region,” said Schumer. “Upstate New York and the Hudson Valley stand ready and able to unleash the untapped potential of its maple syrup industry, and this legislation would help them do just that. Hundreds of millions of untapped trees are just sitting there, full of a lucrative natural resource that could propel New York to the top of the maple industry, and that’s why this legislation, which provides grants to help open up private lands for tapping, and for research and education in syrup production, further bolsters our efforts to make sure that New York’s agricultural market can reap the benefits of its natural resources. They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but with millions of trees waiting to be tapped, there may be bucketfuls of dollars inside them. The Maple TAP Act will help New Yorkers tap into this incredible business opportunity, and I will fight tooth and nail for it to be included in the House Farm Bill.”
“We’re grateful for this amendment which will provide new assistance to maple producers and brings recognition of the importance of maple research and marketing,” Dwayne Hill, President, New York State Maple Producers Association. “Maple is an important agriculture commodity and we look forward to continued growth in New York’s maple industry. There’s no stronger advocate for the New York maple syrup industry than Senator Schumer and we thank him for his hard work.“
Across New York State, there are over 280 million maple trees with syrup-tapping potential, with local upstate farmers relying on it as a lucrative pocket in the agriculture industry. However, despite the staggering number of trees across the state, less than one percent of them are currently used for maple tapping, forcing the U.S. to import four times as much maple syrup as it produces. By contrast, Canada currently produces 85% of the world’s maple product, tapping into over one-third of their maple trees. New York has about 1.8 million taps, while Quebec, the epicenter of the Canadian maple industry, has nearly 40 million.
Despite having nearly 200 million more trees than Quebec, New York State still imports syrup from Canada because internal production is too low to meet the market demands. This is due largely to the fact that 68% of all potentially tappable maple trees in New York State are located on privately-owned land. Allowing states to offer grants to landowners who will open up their land to maple tapping will increase the number of available trees, expand maple syrup production, and pump much needed farm revenues back into local economies. The grants provided under the new Maple TAP Act could also be used to promote maple industry research and education at institutions like Cornell, and for market promotion for maple syrup and maple products. Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
According to a Cornell University analysis of U.S. Forest Service data, New York currently has approximately 280,000,000 potential maple taps, while actual taps are at 1,860,000.
The Maple TAP Act has the potential to increase maple taps and boost revenue to farmers all across the state – here is how the numbers break down:
· In the Capital Region, there are 34.8 million potential new taps, and the TAP Act could help bring in an additional $10 million in revenue per year.
· In the Western New York, there are 21.1 million potential new taps, and the TAP Act could help bring in an additional $6 million in revenue per year.
· In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there are 11.6 million potential new taps, and the TAP Act could help bring in an additional $3 million in revenue per year.
· In the Southern Tier, there are an amazing 70.8 million potential new taps, and the TAP Act could help bring in an additional $22 million in revenue per year.
· In Central New York, there are 45.5 million potential new taps, and the TAP Act could help bring in an additional $13 million in revenue per year.
· In the Hudson Valley, there are 26.8 million potential new taps, and the TAP Act could help bring in an additional $8.7 million in revenue per year.
· In the North Country, the epicenter of New York's maple industry, there are 70 million potential new taps, and the TAP Act could help bring in an additional $19 million in revenue per year.
Maple production in the US peaked in the 1800s, steadily declined throughout the 20th century, and is experiencing a rebirth in the 21st century. Maple syrup is a luxury item that is now consumed throughout the world, yet the greatest market for syrup is still the United States. The U.S. currently imports almost four times as much syrup as it produces, and Schumer states that there is a tremendous opportunity for US producers to expand production and fill domestic markets with ‘local’ syrup.
To combat the lack of utilization of the state’s maple resources and unleash Upstate New York’s maple tapping and research potential, Schumer introduced his legislation in March 2011 that would authorize USDA to make grants of up to $20 million per year to support maple syrup production in states like New York. These grants could be used to encourage owners and operators of privately held land to expand their tapping operations or voluntarily make their land available for maple tapping, to promote maple industry research and education at institutions like Cornell, and for market promotion for maple syrup and maple products.