Food Safety & Gov't Regulations


Why does my syrup taste sick? Tips for avoiding off flavor this season

Peter Gregg | March 11, 2021

MORRISVILLE, Vt.—Flavor is weird.

“Flavor is a personal experience, ” said Mark Isselhardt, the UVM Extension Maple Specialist who led an online seminar on identifying flavor in syrup called “Why does my syrup taste sick?”

"It may be influenced by what your family grew up favoring," he said.

Isselhardt was joined by former Vermont agency of agriculture inspector Henry Marckres, a legend in the state and a leading expert on syrup quality.

Both encouraged sugarmakers this season to pay close attention to taste and quality and identify flavors that would be different than normal.

“If it doesn’t taste quite right, bring it home and have someone else taste it,” Marckres said. MORE ]


Vermont maple conference week kicks off

Peter Gregg | December 7, 2020

WESTFORD, Vt.—The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association and the UVM Extension Service are hosting a series of online classes for sugarmakers all this week.
The classes are free.

Preregister at

Here is a rundown of the classes:

Monday, Dec. 7 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Thinning your Sugarbush for Sap & Tree Health with Peter Smallidge
Thinning is a specific woodlot management practice to concentrate growth on the most desirable trees. This presentation reviews the benefits of thinning, how to know
if you should thin your sugarbush, potential problems from thinning, and reviews research about how thinning in NY sugarbushes affects health, tapping options, and production.

Tuesday, December 8
9:00 - 10:00 am Designing & Installing a Maple Tubing System with Adam Wild
Looking to upgrade from buckets to tubing or add vacuum? This session will cover basic tubing design and installation for both gravity and vacuum systems. MORE ]


Better price! Not too late to get certified organic for upcoming season

Peter Gregg | November 17, 2020

DIGHTON, Mass.—It’s not too late to get certified organic for the upcoming season.

“Maple is one of the easiest crops to certify,” said Donald Franczyk, executive director of Baystate Organic Certifiers, a USDA accredited certifying agency providing organic certification to farm and processing operations throughout the U.S.

“We’re set up to take maple applications up through the sap run,” Franczyk said.

He said the process from application to certification can take as little as four to six weeks, allowing sugarmakers to jump on the organic trend and take advantage of better pricing.

Organic syrup generally fetches a higher retail price for sugarmakers who market directly to consumers. Producers who sell syrup to bulk buyers will also receive a premium. MORE ]


Vermont agency trying to find a home for old spouts besides the landfill

Peter Gregg | October 20, 2020

FAIRFAX, Vt.—Old spouts can't find a home.

The Northwest Vermont Solid Waste District continues to seek alternatives to landfilling polycarbonate spouts.

Unfortunately, the NWSWD has been unsuccessful during the prior eight months in identifying a downstream facility with the in-house capacity to fully process PC spouts.

Clear PC spout samples shipped to an Illinois processor did not result in advancing to bench-level processing.

Fully processing PC spouts will require three steps: grinding, washing and flotation separation to remove sapline contaminant plastic and other debris. MORE ]


New round of grants available for producers

Peter Gregg | October 6, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt.—Better get on it.

Syrup producers have new rounds of grant opportunities coming up again through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

The agency’s REAP grants have fresh deadlines for 2021 funding of November 2 and March 31.

A webinar was held for producers in Vermont and New Hampshire last month that outlines details about the program and how to apply (sugarmakers in other states are eligible as well).

USDA officials stress that the application process is fairly easy to navigate. MORE ]


Sugarmakers have many resources for help with CFAP application process

Peter Gregg | August 30, 2020

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Better get busy on the paperwork.

Producers looking to apply for emergency aid funding through the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) are being encouraged to get to work immediately on the red tape.

Deadline to sign up for the funding is Sept. 11.

“With only two weeks before the deadline, now is the time to check out the resources on and contact the call center or your local FSA office for your last-minute questions,” the USDA’s Farm Service Agency said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, the New York State Maple Producers Association based in Syracuse is hosting a webinar on Wednesday Sept. 2 at 7pm to answer questions for sugarmakers. MORE ]


Details coming in on Covid relief program for maple

Peter Gregg | August 23, 2020

WESTFORD, Vt.—Details are coming in on the maple portion of the $16 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) which provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

The program was expanded last week to include what the USDA has classified in their wording as “maple sap (for maple syrup).”

Farmers will have until Sept. 11 to apply for the funding.

On Friday Vermont’s USDA contact Wendy Wilton held an online meeting with the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association to clarify details of the program, said VMSMA executive director Allison Hope.
“I have been working with the state FSA offices cooperatively to get a clear definition.”


Maple producers are added to the $16 billion CFAP program

Peter Gregg | August 16, 2020

WESTFORD, Vt.—Emergency coronavirus relief funds are now available for maple producers, beginning Monday Aug. 17.

The $16 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) administered by the USDA provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

Nearly 60 additional commodities were announced by the USDA on August 11, including the addition of what the USDA has classified in their wording as “maple sap (for maple syrup).”

Allison Hope of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association said last week she is seeking clarification on the odd wording. MORE ]