Press-Republican

April 2, 2013

Schumer visits West Chazy to promote Maple TAP Act

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

WEST CHAZY — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants to help maple producers tap into under-utilized resources.

The senator (D-New York City) visited Parker Family Maple Farm in West Chazy on Monday morning to promote the Maple Tap Act. It would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide grants of up to $20 million a year to states that create programs to encourage landowners to open up their property so more maple trees could be tapped.

POTENTIAL

“I want to talk about New York’s untapped potential,” he said to a group of about 20 maple-syrup producers and local officials.

Schumer said only about 1.8 million maples in New York are tapped. That’s around 1 percent of the trees that could be used.

By contrast, about one-third of available trees are tapped in Quebec, more than 40 million. The Canadian maple industry has been assisted by government subsidies, which has helped that country capture about 85 percent of the world market for maple syrup.

Schumer said research at Cornell University showed the potential for about $82 million in additional revenue if more trees were tapped.

“I believe New York could become the global leader in the maple industry,” he said. 

The USDA grants could also help market New York maple products and fund maple research through institutions such as Cornell. 

He intends to push his colleagues in the Senate and House to include the Maple Tap Act in the upcoming Farm Bill, which needs to be passed by September.

‘VERY EXCITING’

The Parker Family Maple Farm has about 42,000 taps on approximately 700 acres of land. Owner Michael Parker said he would like to double the size of the operation and that legislation like this would help.

“I think it’s very exciting the federal government has this kind of enthusiasm about our industry,” he said.

The farm has five full-time employees and five seasonal workers.

Parker said he was also excited to hear the bill includes funds to promote marketing. He said it has been a great season so far and could be one for the record books if temperatures continue to fluctuate between the 20s at night and the low 40s during the day for a couple more weeks.

“The quality (of syrup) is great this year,” Parker said.

New York State Maple Producers Association President Dwayne Hill traveled to the press conference from his farm in Delaware County in southern New York.

“I think this is a great idea,” he said of Schumer’s plan. “The market overseas is increasing all the time. We need to increase production to keep up with demand.”

STATE LANDS

Asked Monday about allowing tapping on state lands, such as in the Adirondack Park, Schumer said he would look into that possibility.

Hill said he would love to see state lands included in the bill, not only the Adirondack Park but the Catskill Park in his section of the state.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com