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Food Safety & Gov't Regulations

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Federation urges government to stop logging maples on Crown land

Peter Gregg | September 29, 2021

LONGUEUIL, Que. —Tap 'em don't chop 'em.

With logging due to begin this fall, the Québec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP) federation is urging a review of the provincial Québec Timber Production Strategy, which calls for logging maple forests on Crown land that could otherwise be tapped by sugarmakers.

Introduced last December by the Ministre des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP), the policy has devastating consequences for maple producers on public lands and the future of the maple industry in general, the federaion said.

The government strategy sets aside a mere 30,000 hectares of public land to maple production, far less than the 200,000 hectares QMSP says the industry will need.

QMSP is pressing for changes before too much damage is done. MORE ]

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USDA to reimburse farmers for organic certification fees

Peter Gregg | September 20, 2021

WASHINGTON—Organic sugarmakers can now apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to cover the cost of receiving or maintaining organic certification.

Applications for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) are due Nov. 1.

Producers can be reimbursed for expenses made between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021 including application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.

Meanwhile, it’s not too late to get certified organic for the upcoming season, say industry officials.

“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. MORE ]

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Sap hauling banned in some Wisconsin towns

Theresa Baroun | August 12, 2021

MADISON, Wisc.—Sugarmakers in Wisconsin have been banned from hauling sap by local town and county restrictions.

Some townships and counties have put their law enforcement on high alert during sap season to enforce road bans and weight limits during the spring break up, which makes it nearly impossible for those that need to move sap to do so legally.

The Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association (WMSPA) has been working with the Wisconsin state legislature to get the department of transportation to recognize maple sap as an agricultural product.
There is a long way to go and a lot of minds need to be educated that maple sap is perishable ag product, no different than the dairy industry moving milk.

Legislative Bill 262 is currently being considered by the legislature in Madison.

MORE ]

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Non food-grade PVC could become a issue

Peter Gregg | May 26, 2021

HIGHGATE, Vt.—Get out your wrenches.

The development of a new sugarhouse certification program in Vermont has uncovered a possible new food safety issue for the whole industry—the use of non food grade PVC pipe.

“I don’t think anybody knew this was a problem,” said Arnie Piper, vice chairman of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, who is spearheading a voluntary first-of-its-kind state certification program that is expected to launch in the near future.

At issue is some PVC used in sugarhouses and sold by plumbing supply houses not stamped as food grade but instead intended for drainage, waste and venting.

“The bad stuff is gonna say DWV,” Piper said. MORE ]

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Tips on passing sugarhouse inspections and complying with regs

Paul Post | May 19, 2021

MADISON, Wisc.—Complying with ever-changing government rules and regulations can be a burdensome challenge for any small business operator.

Sugarmakers are no exception.

But it's important for the industry to maintain a high standard of quality and consumer confidence. A Wisconsin state official told how the licensing and inspection process helps achieve such goals and what inspectors are trained to look for in his presentation, "Requirements of Facilities Used Solely for Concentration of Maple Sap." MORE ]

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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 ]

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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 https://vermontmaple.org/maple-conferences.

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 ]

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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 ]