By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Legislation known as the Maple Tap Act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, passed the Senate, 66-27, as part of the bipartisan Farm Bill.
The Maple Tap Act would provide U.S. Department of Agriculture grants of up to $20 million per year to states that create programs to encourage landowners to open their trees to maple tapping, according to a news release from Schumer’s office.
Schumer’s legislation would also provide grants to states to support market promotion, maple-industry research and development and education through leading institutions, like Cornell.
The United States imports four times as much maple syrup as it produces, the release said.
New York currently taps less than 1 percent of the state’s nearly 300 million maple trees. The state has failed 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 more than $80 million worth of 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, cementing its standing as the world’s leader in syrup production, the release said.
“As maple syrup is poured on top of pancakes and drizzled over waffles at breakfast tables each morning, I want more of it to be stamped Made in NY,” Schumer’s statement said.
“The Senate-passed Maple Tap Act could help do just that, by opening up funding and other resources to unleash the potential of Upstate New York’s maple industry and tapping the hundreds of millions of maple trees that sit unused for syrup production.”
SUPPORT FROM OWENS
Schumer is urging the House of Representatives to also pass the bill.
North Country Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) co-sponsored a companion section in the House version of the Farm Bill, which was approved in committee.
“Maple production is a growing business in New York, and I am pleased our legislation to assist maple producers is gaining momentum,” Owens said in a statement.
“I remain committed to seeing the House complete its work on the Farm Bill for the benefit of all New York farm interests, whether it’s dairy, apple, maple or other operations.”
Schumer has visited a number of maple farms throughout the state to gain support for this legislation, including the Parker Family Maple Farm in West Chazy.
The North Country, the epicenter of New York’s maple industry, has 70 million potential new taps, Schumer’s release said, and the Tap Act could help bring in an additional $19 million in revenue per year.
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