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The Acer Access And Development Program Has Invested In Initiatives That Helped North Country Maple Producers Increase Production, Strengthen Conservation And Drive Efficiency, Boosting The Regional Economy

At The American Maple Museum In Lewis County, Schumer Urges Colleagues In Congress To Increase Funding For The Acer Program In Final Agriculture Appropriations Bill & Extend Program For Long-Term Future In Final Farm Bill Report 

Schumer: Boosting Acer Program Will Spout Sweet Results For The North Country

Standing at the American Maple Museum in Lewis County, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to increase funding for the Acer Access and Development Program in the conference report for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Additionally, Schumer also called on his colleagues in Congress to reauthorize the critical program for the long-term future in the final Farm Bill conference report. Schumer said that the Acer Access and Development Program provides opportunities for investment and research in the maple industry, helping producers across Upstate New York increase their production, market products, strengthen conservation and drive efficiency in maple sugaring. New York State ranks second in the nation for maple production, with 806,000 gallons of maple syrup produced in 2018, and Lewis County is one of the top producers. Schumer explained that both extending authorization of and increasing appropriations for the Acer Access and Development Program would allow producers across Lewis County to better compete in the global marketplace with countries like Canada, which would help to boost the North Country economy.

“Upstate New York is in the midst of a maple explosion, with Lewis County and the North Country leading the charge. It is critical for the federal government to continue to support this burgeoning industry through any means possible, to allow Upstate producers to keep pace with international competitors like Canada,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today I’m calling on my colleagues in Congress to increase funding for this critical program in the final Agriculture Appropriations conference report, and to extend it for the foreseeable future in the final Farm Bill conference report. These actions will help to provide North Country producers with the resources they need to continue tapping the massive potential of this crop and generating sweet results for the regional economy.”

"Representatives like Senator Schumer who understand the importance of local agriculture have helped members in the New York State Maple Producers Association by providing the support they need to grow through the vigorous backing of initiatives such as the ACER program and the reauthorization of the Farm Bill," said Helen Thomas, Executive Director, New York State Maple Producers’ Association.

Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, said: “Maple syrup production requires a highly skilled workforce and an optimal climate. Here in New York, we have both. For generations, Cornell CALS has helped producers get the most from their trees. Our research, teaching and outreach will continue to serve the industry in the state, and we thank Sen. Schumer for his effort to secure funding that will benefit producers in New York and consumers across the country.”

Schumer explained that his legislation, the Maple Tapping Access Program, later became the Acer Access and Development Program and was originally signed into law as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. Specifically, this legislation provided authorization for USDA grants to states that create programs to encourage individual, private landowners to open up their trees to maple tapping. Schumer's legislation also provided authorization for USDA grants to states to support market promotion, maple industry research and development, and education through leading institutions. With the program’s authorization recently expiring at the end of FY18, Schumer was instrumental in getting language included to reauthorize the program through FY23 in the Senate version of the Farm Bill. However, since the Acer Program’s reauthorization was not included in House of Representatives version of the Farm Bill, Schumer is urging his colleagues in Congress to reauthorize and extend the program in the final Farm Bill conference report.

Additionally, Schumer said not only is it important to ensure that the Acer Program is extended long-term, but that it should also receive robust funding so that it can continue to boost competitiveness in the maple industry. Schumer explained that recently, the Senate increased funding for the Acer Access and Development Program by $1 million in their version of the FY19 Agriculture Appropriations bill, coming out to a total of $4 million. However, the House of Representative’s version of FY19 Agriculture Appropriations bill did not include any money for the Acer Program. Therefore, Schumer today strongly urged his colleagues in Congress to include the $1 million increase for the essential maple program in the final, FY19 Agriculture Appropriations bill conference report as well.

Schumer said that recently, the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received roughly $500K in funding from the Acer Access and Development Program to extend research and education efforts of the Cornell Maple Program. Areas of focus will include increasing maple syrup production per tap, improving sap collection and processing efficiency, promoting productive and sustainable sugarbush management practices, developing innovative technologies, and helping producers market products. Cornell staff will increase producer knowledge and adoption of improved technologies and processes in each of these focus areas through workshops, maple schools, the publication of technical guidelines in print and digital formats, and the development of multimedia resources. Schumer said that maple producers have greatly benefited from Cornell’s Maple Program and that Acer funding will allow them to continue their critical work and help the industry grow.

The maple industry in New York has seen significant growth in recent years. According to New York State, New York's maple production constituted about 19 percent of the national total. The number of maple taps also continues to climb, with more than 2.73 million taps in production in 2018, the highest number of taps since 1943. This allows the state to rank second in the nation for maple production, behind only Vermont, with 806,000 gallons of maple syrup produced in 2018, according to New York State. Additionally, state maple production has increased 350% since 1998 and 50% over the last 5 years, with the North Country leading the way in the production.

Maple syrup is an important agricultural product across 10 states in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. According to the USDA, in 2017, the United States produced more than 4.27 million gallons of syrup, worth approximately $147 million. Maple is also a critical conservation crop, which helps keep our forests in production, conserves important lands, protects water quality, and provides a valuable economic benefit to rural communities.