NY maple producers aim to increase production, quality
Vermont leads the nation in maple production according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. New York is a close second, and a new program aims to make sure it continues to grow in volume and quality.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has added the maple industry to the Growth and Certified program. It holds sugar makers to a certain standard of quality to make sure every consumer really knows what they're getting.
"It's the labor of love," said Wayne Brow with Brow's Sugarhouse.
There's a pretty good shot that if your a sugarer, you love what you do. "With every sugar house comes hours and hours of labor," said Joy Herfurth with Brandy Brook Maple Farm.
Brow's Sugarhouse and Brandy Brooks Maple Farm have about ten thousand taps each. "We maintain those we have to go through every year and re-tap the trees," Brow said. He's excited about Cuomo's announcement. "What we're trying to do is make sure that everybody is putting out a safe product and that our customers are getting what they paid for."
The Growth and Certified program was created in 2016. Agricultural producers and growers must stick to food safety and environmental sustainability standards, including completion of a food safety class and requirements that all maple products are fully-sourced in New York.
"I think people lately are more concerned about where their food is coming from, how it's made, what goes into it and who is making it," Herfurth said. "The past two seasons New York state has made a record production of maple syrup."
Governor Cuomo wants to increase exposure for Maple producers. In a statement, Cuomo said the maple industry generates about $141 million per year for the state. "Expanding the New York State Grown and 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," Cuomo said.
Because a little support in this industry can go a long way. "I think it's important for sugar makers to help each other," Herfurth said. "It's our job to guide them and give them good advice so they can be successful and make a good quality product."
New York has two maple weekends March 17 to 18th and March 24th to 25th. Both Brandy Brooks Maple Farm and Brow's Sugarhouse will be welcoming visitors.