Yes, we Canadians roll our eyes whenever someone includes maple syrup in a list of Canadian stereotypes. But it’s not like we’ve done nothing to perpetuate that; we even made a PSA about it. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) must want a piece of that action. While most of his fellow Democrats are tripping over themselves to add their names to the pro-same-sex marriage list, he’s proposing new federal grants for MOAR SYRUP. In New York, of course.
The original Maple Tapping Access Program (TAP) passed as part of the 2012 farm bill, and created grants for states to assist syrup producers with accessing maple trees on privately owned land. States could also get some money for researching and promoting their maple markets. Everything would be overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Schumer is looking to get a new Maple TAP Act included in the 2013 farm bill. Here’s his quote:
Despite reports that tapping season has begun, hundreds of millions of untapped trees are just sitting there, full of a lucrative natural resource that could propel New York to the top of the maple industry, as well as provide a huge economic boost and new jobs to maple-rich Clinton County.
Heaven knows they haven’t been leveraging their resources that much already. Less than one half of one percent tappable maple trees in upstate New York are used for syrup production, compared to 3 percent in Vermont, which despite such a low production rate put an image of maple tapping on its state quarter.
But it’s a win-win situation: Producers are spared the expense of new land, and landowners can not only get money or syrup in exchange for sticking tubes in their trees, but they can often get agricultural land assessments that lower their property taxes. And with less capital expense, producers are freer to hire more. Why would such a sensibl production method remain so uncommon?
New York may never produce as much syrup as Quebec, which Schumer invoked, but there has to be a market for made-in-America pancake sauce. That it would require federal grants to spread is baffling. I’m no fan of boutique tax credits, but if Schumer must use federal resources to facilitate this growth, he might, for efficiency’s sake, consider a credit for landowners who allow tree-tapping.
Even so, he shouldn’t be using federal resources. If his efforts get syrup producers to clue in to all the trees on which they’ve been missing out, and approach landowners on their own, we can give him some kudos. This does not require any government. It requires the industry to wake up and smell the coffee that goes so well with a plate of syrup-laden quick breads. (And bacon. Maple bacon. That’s some good breakfast stuff.)