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Food Safety & Gov't Regulations

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 farmers.gov/cfap 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 ]

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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.”
MORE ]

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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 ]

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Maine's governor calls out USDA for omitting maple from CFAP

Peter Gregg | June 23, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine— Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday called out the USDA for failing to designate maple syrup as an eligible crop in the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult for Maine’s approximately 557 maple syrup producers,” the governor said on Tuesday.

Sugarmakers in the U.S. are currently ineligible for CFAP despite the industry suffering COVID-19 losses including price drops, annual event cancellations like Maine Maple Sunday and restaurant closures. The food service sector has also dried up.

The CFAP program provides direct cash payments of up to $250,000 to farmers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, USDA says U.S. dairy producers received nearly $667 million in direct payments through CFAP as of June 15.

Specialty crops as obscure as rhubarb and taro have been included in the CFAP program. The USDA has shut out other commodities besides maple but said it would reconsider “if credible evidence is provided that supports a five percent price decline,” the agency said.
MORE ]

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Sugarmakers not out of the woods on FDA 'added sugar' label change

Peter Gregg | April 27, 2020

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—Sugarmakers are not out of the woods on the controversial added sugar issue.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is still deliberating new nutritional labels for pure maple syrup.

While the labels will not specifically force sugarmakers to make a false claim that the product somehow has ‘added sugars’ as originally proposed last year, the label still may state that syrup will be an added sugar to the amount of recommended sugar intake in consumers’ total diet.
MORE ]

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Lead equipment ban for small producers nears

Peter Gregg | February 20, 2020

ALSTEAD, N.H.—Last chance to get the lead out.

Small scale sugarmakers must have nearly all lead equipment out of the production process this season if they plan to sell their syrup to a bulk buyer. And all the rest of their lead equipmnet must be scrapped by October, the last wave of compliance with state of California regulators who sued syrup packers six years ago for not meeting stringent lead-free standards.

“The industry needs to be compliant,” said Ray Bonenberg of Mapleside Sugar Bush in Pembroke, Ont. and past-president of the International Maple Syrup Institute which has been helping educate producers on the issue.

Sugarmakers with 10,000 taps or less must get even the smallest piece of lead-laced equipment out of the sugarhouse if they plan to sell any syrup to a wholesale buyer this spring. MORE ]