Governor Baker Declares March “Massachusetts Maple Month”
WESTHAMPTON – March 3, 2017 – Governor Charlie Baker today declared March as “Massachusetts Maple Month” in an effort to support the Commonwealth’s many maple producers and encourage Massachusetts residents to purchase locally-produced maple products. To kick off Maple Month, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux joined local and agricultural officials at Steve’s Sugar Shack in Westhampton for a ceremonial sugar maple tree tapping.
“I am proud to recognize Massachusetts’ long-standing tradition of declaring March ‘Maple Month,’ and encourage all residents and visitors to support our local maple syrup producers by purchasing Massachusetts maple products from one of the Commonwealth’s 300 maple producers,” said Governor Charlie Baker.
“Producers throughout the Commonwealth represent an important maple sugaring industry that also supplements the income of many dairy farmers,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “‘Massachusetts Maple Month’ helps connect consumers with their local maple producers, sustain the industry, and encourages important local economic activity.”
Massachusetts is home to approximately 300 maple syrup producers, including many who are open to the public throughout the sugaring season. Last year more than 77,000 gallons of maple syrup was produced and Massachusetts maple producers’ sales each year contribute more than $6 million to the Commonwealth’s economy. The maple industry employs over 1,000 workers and Massachusetts sugar makers steward more than 15,000 acres of woodland.
“Producing maple syrup is a sustainable Massachusetts tradition, as maple producers are good stewards of the land,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration supports maple syrup producers throughout the year with state grants, including through the Farm Energy Grant Program and the Farm Viability Program, which have helped maple producers purchase state-of-the-art equipment and technology to advance the production of this natural agricultural product.”
“Visiting a Massachusetts maple operation is a great agri-tourism activity that the whole family can enjoy,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner Lebeaux. “Many sugarhouses serve a delicious breakfast featuring the ‘Taste of Spring’ as well as sell maple products including maple syrup, maple candy and other maple items. Many also offer sugarhouse open houses and tours.
“A sure sign of Spring is when the sugar houses are at their busiest producing Massachusetts maple syrup that is second to none,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “I appreciate the hard working men and women who keep this important agricultural industry going and to all who support them by purchasing maple syrup products.”
“It's always great to have Commissioner Lebeaux come out to Western Massachusetts to highlight our great farms and food producers,” said State Representative Peter Kocot (D-Northampton). “I'm a big fan of maple products and my district produces some of the best maple syrup in the country.”
“Recognizing March as Massachusetts Maple Month is a wonderful reason to get out and visit a local sugarhouse, farm stand, farmers market or buy local shop,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development. “Agri-tourism is a growing, vibrant and important sector of our cultural and farm-based economies. There are almost 70 locations statewide open and available that carry local maple products. This recognition supports their efforts.”
While March has earned the distinction of Maple Month, tapping in Massachusetts can start as early as late January and continue through April. For the best sugaring, nights must be below freezing and days must be above freezing. Everything from the weather, soil, and genetics of the tree can affect maple syrup flavor.
The Massachusetts Maple Producers Association (MMPA) will hold its 4th Annual Maple Weekend March 18 and 19, and will feature open house events at sugarhouses throughout central and western Massachusetts.
MDAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – MDAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit MDAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/mdarcommish.