FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2008
AS NYS MAPLE SYRUP INDUSTRY FALLS SHORT OF ECONOMIC POTENTIAL, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES NEW PLAN TO BUILD STATEWIDE MAPLE-SYRUP BOTTLING PLANT IN LEWIS - CREATE JOBS, BOOST PRODUCTION
New York State Lags in Maple Production Despite Having Nearly 200 Million More Maple Trees than Quebec - the World's Leading Maple-Syrup Producer
In May, Schumer Pushed Legislation to Boost Local Tapping; Today, Senator Announced Plan to Help Cornell University- a World-Class Leader in Maple-Syrup Research- Turn Lewis County into the Center of the Maple Syrup Industry
As Upstate New York’s maple syrup industry falls short of realizing its economic potential, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced a new plan to build a statewide bottling plant in Lewis County that would boost maple syrup production and create jobs. New York State currently lags behind industry leaders like Quebec and Vermont in maple syrup production, importing four times as much maple syrup as it produces, despite having nearly 200 million more maple trees. With world-wide demand for maple products rapidly outpacing supply and prices at record levels, Upstate New York has a real opportunity to become a leader in the maple syrup industry.
In an effort to boost the local economy, create jobs and make Upstate New York the epicenter of a booming maple syrup industry, Schumer announced his support for Cornell University’s efforts to build a statewide maple syrup bottling center in Lewis County. Schumer pledged to support this effort through the appropriate appropriations and grant avenues in the United States Senate.
“The North Country stands ready and able to unleash the untapped potential of its maple syrup industry,” Schumer said. “With millions of maple trees just waiting to be tapped, we have a great opportunity to increase production and sales with a statewide bottling center right here in Lewis County. I will fight tooth and nail for this plant and other measures so that we can put Lewis County and the entire North Country on the map as the epicenter of the maple syrup industry.”
Across the North Country, including Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence, there are over 66 million maple trees with syrup-tapping potential, yet less than one percent of them are currently being used. Despite the staggering number of maple trees across Upstate New York, the U.S. imports four times as much maple syrup as it produces.
Still, local farmers rely on maple tapping as one of the most lucrative pockets in the agriculture industry, bringing in annual revenue of over $3 million to the North Country counties. However, the potential revenue from utilizing the untapped maple trees could be over $9 million.
Furthermore, recent consumer trends suggest the time is ripe to increase New York maple production to meet increased demand. The current state of the economic market is ideal for increased exporting as the international exchange rate that has previously favored Canadian maple producers has equalized, making NY-US maple products cost-competitive.
However, a centralized maple bottling plant is necessary for New York producers to take advantage of this economic opportunity on a mass marketing scale, supplying grocery chains, institutions and other consumer markets. Experts say that one of the major factors holding back Upstate New York from its maple syrup production potential is that it lacks a statewide bottling facility.
Currently, the Lewis County Department of Economic Development has granted funding for two studies at Cornell University this month to assess the feasibility of having a centralized bottling facility located in Lewis County that would draw syrup from New York State and supply grocery stores, institutions, and other markets at a significant level. The new bottling plant would be the only maple syrup plant in the state and would allow for quicker, more efficient bottling and processing of maple syrup. The plant would serve the packaging needs of the 428 maple producers in the North Country that are within easy reach of Lewis County.
Lewis County has a very strong maple syrup industry and taps a higher percentage of trees--almost comparable to the tapping rate in Vermont--than the other counties in New York State. The Lewis County’s geographic proximity to the St. Lawrence River and Atlantic also allow it to transport products to large, affluent Northeast and Middle Atlantic markets.
Saying the county’s strong maple heritage, skilled workers and ample real estate make it an ideal place to center the state’s maple industry, Senator Schumer today announced his support for a new statewide bottling center in Lewis County. The plan would bring Upstate New York its first bottling plant so that it can realize the economic potential of Lewis County’s booming maple syrup heritage, create jobs and turn the North Country into a leader in maple syrup production.
“Too much of the maple syrup produced in New York State is bottled elsewhere simply because we don’t yet have the facility to ramp up our operations,” Schumer said. “New York State maple syrup deserves a ‘New York’ label - not a nod to Vermont or Canada. We must be more aggressive and creative in unleashing New York's pent-up maple-producing potential. 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, as well providing a huge economic boost to maple-rich upstate,” he added.
Schumer today toured the American Maple Museum in Croghan, New York to make the announcement. The museum has stated its overwhelming support for Cornell’s efforts, saying it would be a welcome addition to the museum, which is located on the 80 mile route from Loweville to Ogdensburg which has been newly, an appropriately, named the “Maple Traditions Scenic Byway.”
Schumer has taken many steps to boost the maple syrup industry in the North Country, including his legislation to help open up private land to maple tappers. New York’s productivity is hindered by the fact that 73% of these trees are on privately-owned land and the state does not have a maple syrup processing and bottling plant.
To unleash Upstate New York’s maple tapping and production potential, Schumer wrote legislation that would create a grant program to encourage owners and operators of privately-held farm and ranch land with maple trees to voluntarily make such land available for maple tapping. Currently, this bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture.
According to the latest US Forest Service forest inventory data, among the 19 states in the eastern United States that contain a significant amount of maple trees, there are nearly 2 billion potential taps. The National Agriculture Statistics Service reports that only 7.5 million taps were put out this year, a mere fraction of what is available for tapping. Increasing utilization rate throughout all of the maple-producing states to that of Vermont, the amount of taps would increase to nearly 40 million and the economic impact of the maple industry would soar over $300 million/year.