State program will aid St. Lawrence County maple syrup producers
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says the New York State Grown & Certified program is expanding to include the New York maple industry, which includes many producers in St. Lawrence County.
The program will increase exposure for state maple producers, who rank second in the nation in syrup production and generate an estimated economic impact of $141 million each year. Annual Maple Weekends scheduled for March 17-18 and March 24-25 will help spotlight the growing maple industry and boost awareness of producers in the Grown & Certified program.For more on Maple Weekend in St. Lawrence County, visit http://www.slcmaple.com/.
"Maple production in New York is thriving once again and it continues to be a driving force for this state's agricultural industry," Cuomo said. "Expanding the New York State Grown & Certified program to include maple means we can promote more of New York's finest producers, connect consumers to high-quality products, and support the growth of local communities across the state."
To celebrate the addition of maple into the New York State Grown & Certified program and to kick off the upcoming Maple Weekends, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul participated in the first ceremonial tree-tapping of the season at Smith's Maple Farm in Hamburg, Erie County.
Starting next week, maple farms across the state will open their doors to the public to offer tours and pancake breakfasts, sell maple products, and demonstrate the syrup-making process, which includes the traditional system of hanging buckets on trees or more modern methods of production using vacuum systems to increase the yield of sap per tree.
Maple Weekends will take place March 17-18 and March 24 -25 at 178 maple farms in 45 upstate counties. Over 400,000 visitors are expected to participate in Maple Weekends activities, boosting agri-tourism across the state.
New York State Grown & Certified promotes New York's agricultural producers and growers who adhere to food safety and environmental sustainability standards. For maple, the syrup must be sourced from New York maple trees and processed in New York State. To meet the food safety standards, participants must have successfully completed a maple food safety class, developed in partnership between Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Western New York Maple Producers Association, and must follow food safety best practices that are subject to an onsite audit.
In addition, a maple producer must participate in an environmental management program that promotes sustainability and keeps forests healthy and productive, such as the New York State Agricultural Environmental Management program, which is administered through the Soil and Conservation Districts, or the Certified Tree Farmer, administered by the American Tree Farm System.