Schumer Pushing for Syrup Plant in Upstate New York

Fri September 12, 2008 - Northeast Edition

CROGHAN, N.Y. (AP) A centralized bottling plant would allow New York state to tap the full potential of its underdeveloped maple syrup industry, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Sept. 2.

With worldwide demand for maple products rapidly outpacing supply and prices at record levels, upstate New York has a real opportunity to become an “epicenter’’ in the maple syrup industry, Schumer said during a visit to the American Maple Museum.

New York’s 1,500 maple producers generated $8.02 million in sales in 2006, producing about 224,000 gallons of syrup, according to the state agriculture department. It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

New York State is the third largest state for maple syrup production, behind Vermont and Maine, and is ranked second in value behind Vermont.

But Schumer, noting that the state imports four times more than it produces annually, said that with the exception of a few small, independent bottlers, New York producers do not have an in-state plant to do their processing and bottling.

A centralized plant would allow New York producers to take advantage of mass marketing and supplying grocery chains, institutions and other consumer markets, Schumer said.

Schumer also said an in-state plant would motivate producers to tap more trees.

In the state’s top producing counties alone — Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence — there are more than 66 million maple trees with syrup-tapping potential, yet less than one percent of them are currently being used, the senator said.

Schumer said the potential revenue from utilizing the untapped maple trees could be over $9 million.

Schumer pledged to help obtain federal funding for construction of a plant.