This week, Congressman Bill Owens joined Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) in introducing legislation to increase maple syrup production and promote economic development in Upstate New York. The legislation would provide local maple producers with the tools needed to expand their businesses and create jobs in the region.
"It is critical to Upstate economic development that we give local agriculture leaders the tools they need to thrive," Owens said. "We have an abundance of maple trees in the region, and this bill will help to open up previously untapped resources for area maple producers, allowing them to expand operations and hire locally."
The Maple Tapping Access Program (TAP) Act of 2011 would authorize $20 million in USDA grants to promote the maple industry. Grants would allow States to encourage owners and operators of privately held land to initiate or expand maple-sugaring activities on the land or voluntarily make the land available, including by lease or other means, for access by the public for maple-sugaring activities. Grants would also be used to promote the domestic maple syrup industry through maple-related research and education, promotion of natural resource sustainability in the maple industry, and market promotion of maple products.
The United States currently imports four times as much maple syrup as it produces domestically, tapping only one in every 250 trees. The Maple TAP Act would promote the use of nearly two billion potential taps dispersed across twenty states, boosting American production in the process. Congressman Owens introduced a similar piece of legislation last year after meeting with maple producers at the American Maple Museum in Croghan.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced a companion bill in the United States Senate.