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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 9, 2009

SCHUMER REINTRODUCES BILL TO ENCOURAGE PRIVATE FARMERS TO OPEN UP LAND FOR MAPLE TREE TAPPING; WILL BRING HUGE ECONOMIC BOOST TO MAPLE-RICH UPSTATE


New York Has 200 Million More Maple Trees Than Quebec, Yet It Taps Nearly 40 Million Fewer Trees; Proposed Law, Introduced with Rep. McHugh and Cosponsored By Sen. Gillibrand, Will Spark Robust New York Maple Syrup Industry Growth By Providing Grants To Private Farmers To Open Up Their Land To Tapping

It Is Now More Important Than Ever For New York To Tap This Underused Resource; International Demand For Maple Syrup Is Skyrocketing As Its Use As A Natural Sweetener Grows

Schumer - This Would Be A Sweet Victory For Upstate New York

With New York’s maple syrup industry falling short of its economic potential, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representative John M. McHugh today reintroduced the Maple Tapping Access Program Act of 2009 (Maple TAP Act) - a bill to encourage private farm owners to open up their land for tapping by establishing a federal program to offer grants to states to develop programs that encourage landowners to allow maple tappers to access their property. Despite the staggering number of maple trees across the state, less than one percent of the state’s 289 million maple trees are tapped and the state imports four times as much maple syrup as it produces.  New York’s productivity is hindered by the fact that 73 percent of these trees are on privately-owned land. While New York has nearly 200 million more maple trees than Quebec, the world leader in syrup production, it taps nearly 40 million fewer trees than its northern neighbor. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has singed on as an original cosponsor. 
 
Schumer, McHugh and Gillibrand noted that the timing for this bill is perfect -- current market trends suggest the time is ripe to increase New York maple production to meet increased demand. Canada has recently begun exporting maple syrup to overseas markets where it is used as a natural sweetener. This movement has decreased the supply of maple syrup available to the United States market presenting the opportunity for Upstate New York maple producers to fill the demand.
 
“Upstate New York stands ready and able to unleash the untapped potential of its maple syrup industry,” Schumer said “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 provide a huge economic boost and new jobs to maple-rich upstate. This legislation gives incentives to farmers to open up their land so that New York’s agricultural market can reap the benefits of its natural resources.” 
 
 “Supporting Upstate New York’s maple producers is an important part or our economic recovery,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. “We need to take full advantage of our natural resources by tapping into the maple syrup industry. This will create immediate jobs that will lead to long term economic growth. I will work with Senator Schumer and Congressman McHugh to make this legislation a reality.”
 
To ensure New York State can use this profitable, untapped resource to its economic and agricultural advantage, Schumer today reintroduced the Maple TAP Act which would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a program under which states may apply for grants to encourage owners and operators of privately-held farm and ranch land with maple trees to voluntarily make such land available for maple tapping.
 
Across New York State, there are nearly 300 million maple trees with syrup-tapping potential, with local upstate farmers relying on it as one of the most lucrative pockets 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.  In contrast, Canada currently produces 85% of the world’s maple product, tapping into over one-third of their maple trees. New York has nearly 1.5 million taps, while Quebec, the epicenter of the Canadian maple industry, has nearly 40 million. 
 
This is due largely to the fact that 73% of all maple trees in New York State are located on privately-owned land. Because of this, 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.
 
Across Upstate New York there are nearly 300 million potential taps located on private land:
 
  • In the Hudson Valley, there are an estimated 29 million potential taps, with a .02 percent utilization rate
  • In the Capital Region, there are an estimated 40 million potential taps, with a .57 percent utilization rate
  • In the North Country, there are an estimated 82 million potential taps, with a .67 percent utilization rate
  • In Central New York, there are an estimated 35 million potential taps, with a .17 percent utilization rate
  • In the Rochester Finger Lakes area, there are an estimated 12 million potential taps, with a .30 percent utilization rate
  • In the Southern Tier, there are an estimated 71 million potentialtaps, with a .36 percent utilization rate
  • In Western New York, there are an estimated 23 million potential taps, with a 1.23 percent utilization rate
 
 
In 2008, Schumer pushed to build a statewide bottling plant in Lewis County that would boost maple syrup production and create jobs. Lewis County has a very strong maple syrup industry and taps a higher percentage of trees but, like the rest of the state, still lags in production behind Canada and other maple producing states like Vermont.
 
Today, to combat the staggering lack of utilization of the state’s maple resources and unleash Upstate New York’s maple tapping and production potential, Schumer reintroduced legislation that would encourage private farm owners to open up their land for maple tapping by creating the opportunity for the State to offer them grants and incentives.
 
“This would be a sweet victory for upstate New York,” said Schumer. “The entire state economy benefits by building a thriving maple industry and these private land owners get extra income and potentially lower property taxes, not to mention fresh maple syrup right outside their door.”
 
Schumer’s bill, the Maple TAP Act, woulddirect the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a program under which states may apply for grants to encourage owners and operators of privately-held farm and ranch land with maple trees to make voluntarily such land available for maple tapping.
 
 
 
 

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