LePage wants Maine to become a national leader in maple syrup

Gov. LePage taps Maine's maple tree

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday that Maine’s maple syrup industry could become a national leader if more people understood that there is substantial money to be made from one of Maine’s most abundant natural resources.

“This is an industry that Maine could be leading America in,” said LePage after ceremonially tapping a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn to kick off the sugaring season. “We have the trees and the resources. It’s a matter of getting more people involved in the industry.”

Maine’s 450 sap harvesters produced 450,000 gallons of syrup last year worth nearly $24 million. That ranks Maine third in the country in syrup production behind Vermont and New York, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Vermont is by far the production leader with some 1.3 million gallons produced in 2013, but LePage said Maine can compete.

“Not only could we compete with Vermont, we could compete with Quebec, which is the real big heavy hitter in this game,” said LePage, who was involved in syrup production himself years ago. “We could surpass them easily and we have the forests to do it. We just need awareness and for people to understand that you can make money at it. I’ve been working with the tribes and they have about 150,000 acres and a lot of maple trees. They could be a major, major player if they could get into the business, which we’re encouraging them to do.”

There are a handful of measures pending in the Legislature that seek to bolster the industry, one of which involves a task force that is looking for expansion opportunities. That group’s report is due in January 2015.

A new study by University of Maine Economics Professor Todd Gabe, which was done in partnership with the university, the Department of Agriculture and the Maine Maple Producers Association, showed that the syrup industry contributes nearly $49 million to Maine’s economy and supports more than 800 jobs.

Last year, 120,000 Mainers attended farms last year on Maine Maple Sunday. This year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, March 23. For a list of participating syrup producers, visit getrealmaine.com.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Maine Gov. Paul LePage taps the state's official maple tree Wednesday marking the official start to Maine's sugaring season. The state's maple syrup harvest was worth nearly $24 million in 2013, it was the nation's third largest behind Vermont and New York. The tree is on the grounds of the governor's official residence the Blaine House in Augusta.

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Deja vu

Is this a repeat of his attempt to bolster the lobster industry by sending a lobster to each of the governors. As far as I can tell we are not seeing a huge return on that either. Maybe the syrup industry will be better off if he just stays out of it.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

well we know this

His snake oil business thrives from those that still follow him as a cure.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I could have sworn................

I could have sworn that I heard that this winters cold weather is reeking havoc on this years maple industry. Possibly affecting this years Maine Maple Sunday. Maybe the good Governor should make sure the sap is flowing before he gets everyone all hyped up................

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Cold good and bad

I remember my Uncle back on the farm in Greene with the 76 acres of many trees would have difficulty, when back in those days of the early 60, winters were harsh and freezing.

The nighttime temps are too cold, it takes a longer time for the sap to warm up to run during the day.

If temps are very freezing cold, the sap may not run at all.

The sugar maples will split if freezing is prolonged, producing small amounts.

But I still remember when after the cooking process, he would pour some of that over a pan of snow and we would eat it like taffy.

Those were the days....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

They didn't need to harm the tree

they simply could of hammered the tap into LePage, that is where they would of gotten the most sap for their money.

Knowing Paul, surprising he didn't lay on his back and suck on the tap like the kegs of beer he was accustomed to doing as a punk teenager out at the parties on Old Greene road where he bullied the crowd. Remember Paul....


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