Gov. Cuomo announces New York state Grown & Certified program expands to maple industry
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the New York State Grown & Certified program is expanding to include the New York maple industry. The program will increase exposure for New York’s 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.
“Maple production in New York is thriving once again and it continues to be a driving force for this state’s agricultural industry,” Gov. 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.
“As someone who has visited countless maple syrup facilities, I’ve seen the struggles faced by our farm community, particularly when Mother Nature wreaks havoc with the weather,” Hochul said. “Maple syrup production in New York ranks second in the nation. This program will continue to build and support the syrup industry and we’re proud to celebrate the producers’ success with Maple Weekends in March.”
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. More than 400,000 visitors are expected to participate in Maple Weekends activities, boosting agri-tourism across the state. A searchable list of Maple Weekend events is available here.
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.
A current list of maple producers who have joined the New York State Grown & Certified program includes:
¯ Smith’s Maple Farm – Hamburg, Erie County
¯ Adirondack Natural Products Inc – Croghan, Lewis County
¯ Brandy Brook Maple Farm – Ellenburg Center, Clinton County
¯ Brow’s Sugarhouse – West Chazy, Clinton County
¯ Cedar Brook Farm Maple Confections – Malone, Franklin County
¯ Hamley’s Maple – Barton, Tioga County
¯ Lakeside Maple – Chateaugay, Franklin County
¯ Maple Hollow Farm – Hannibal, Oswego County
¯ Mapleland Farms – Salem, Washington County
¯ Maxon Estate Farms – Attica, Wyoming County
¯ Silver Hill Maple – Turin, Lewis County
¯ Sweetrees Maple Products – Berkshire, Tioga County
¯ Wohlschlegels Naples Maple Farm – Naples, Ontario County
¯ Zimpfer’s Maple Products – Attica, Wyoming County
Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We are excited to include maple in the New York state Grown & Certified program. Maple is the first agricultural crop of the season and it is one that we are really good at producing here in New York State. We have tremendous producers who work hard at making the sweetest products, so we’re especially proud to promote their efforts towards food safety and environmental sustainability. Maple Weekends are just around the corner so I encourage everyone to visit a maple farm this year and experience the very best of New York agriculture.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patty Ritchie said, “Maple syrup is already a major part of our state’s agricultural industry and including it in this program will only ensure it continues to grow. As we celebrate Maple Weekends I hope everyone will take the opportunity to not only sample some sweet treats, but learn more about maple and meet the hardworking people responsible for maple’s success.”
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee said, “From a time long ago, when Native North American people recognized the value of maple syrup for providing energy and food value, to today’s market with the wonderful array of maple products that are now available, people of all ages have enjoyed the uniquely delicious flavors of maple! The New York Maple industry has a long tradition of pride in stewardship and quality, making the addition of maple to the New York state Grown & Certified program a perfect fit, and I encourage everyone to participate in Maple Weekends by visiting one of New York’s many maple producers.”
Zimpfer’s Maple Products owner and Western New York Maple Producers Association President Greg Zimpfer said, “Most of the maple producers in Western New York are off to a great season. We estimate about 10 percent of an average year’s crop has already been made. Now that the temperature is a little warmer during the day, the maple sap will really start flowing and production should ramp up. There’s no better syrup in the world than New York State maple syrup and the NYS Grown & Certified program helps make that happen.”
Executive Director of the New York State Maple Producers Association Helen Thomas said, “The experience of tasting and smelling maple syrup as it is being made is something everyone should experience. The farmers in New York who make maple syrup spend days in the cold woods getting ready to make this delicious crop, and they love to share the whole experience with you. Kids will remember seeing maple being made their whole life!”
Cornell Sugar Maple Program Director and New York State Maple Specialist Steve Childs said, “An integral part of our land-grant mission at Cornell is to provide the food industry with comprehensive training, research and support toward eliminating food-borne illnesses. We have applied our technical know-how to develop a maple-specific food safety curriculum that will enable producers to reach New York State Grown & Certified status and achieve further growth.”
New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee Chair Dale Stein said, “The AEM program is an important tool, helping New York farmers and producers take care of the land they work and our natural resources. We’re pleased to see maple producers join the NYS Grown & Certified program and are proud to assist in their efforts to be even better stewards of the environment.”
The maple industry hit a 73-year record in the 2017 season with the production of 760,000 gallons of maple syrup, an increase of 7.5 percent from the previous year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Maple production has doubled, increasing by 400,000 gallons, or 111 percent since 2012. According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York’s maple production constituted about 18 percent of the national total. The number of maple taps also continues to climb, with more than 2.65 million taps in production in 2017, the highest number of taps since 1944.
Governor Cuomo launched New York State Grown & Certified in 2016 to help meet the growing consumer demand for local foods grown or produced to a higher standard. The program certifies New York State producers who adhere to high food safety and environmental stewardship standards. The Department of Agriculture and Markets supports Grown & Certified producers through a marketing campaign including on-product labels, promotional materials, such as the New York State Grown & Certified website, and sales materials that educate consumers, retailers, and wholesale buyers on the value of the program.
In addition to maple producers, 77 fruit and vegetable growers and 15 Christmas tree growers, operating nearly 50,000 acres of farmland in the state, currently participate in the program. There are also 16 oyster growers in the program, and nine dairy processors participating, representing nearly 1,400 dairy farms across New York State. Grown & Certified products can be found in farmers markets and major retailers including Tops Friendly Markets, Price Chopper, Hannaford, Stewarts Shops, and Shop-Rite. For more information on New York State Grown & Certified, visit certified.ny.gov, or follow the program on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Producers interested in learning more about how to become New York State Grown & Certified and how to qualify can contact the Department of Agriculture and Markets at (800) 554-4501 or email NYSGrownAndCertified@agriculture.ny.gov.