March 3, 2017 \u2013 Governor Charlie Baker today declared March as \u201cMassachusetts Maple Month\u201d in an effort to support the Commonwealth\u2019s 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\u2019s Sugar Shack in Westhampton for a ceremonial sugar maple tree tapping.\n\n\u201cI am proud to recognize Massachusetts\u2019 long-standing tradition of declaring March \u2018Maple Month,\u2019 and encourage all residents and visitors to support our local maple syrup producers by purchasing Massachusetts maple products from one of the Commonwealth\u2019s 300 maple producers,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker.\n\n\u201cProducers throughout the Commonwealth represent an important maple sugaring industry that also supplements the income of many dairy farmers,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201c\u2018Massachusetts Maple Month\u2019 helps connect consumers with their local maple producers, sustain the industry, and encourages important local economic activity.\u201d\n\nMassachusetts 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\u2019 sales each year contribute more than $6 million to the Commonwealth\u2019s economy. The maple industry employs over 1,000 workers and Massachusetts sugar makers steward more than 15,000 acres of woodland.\n\n\u201cProducing maple syrup is a sustainable Massachusetts tradition, as maple producers are good stewards of the land,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cThe 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.\u201d\n\n\u201cVisiting a Massachusetts maple operation is a great agri-tourism activity that the whole family can enjoy,\u201d said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner Lebeaux. \u201cMany sugarhouses serve a delicious breakfast featuring the \u2018Taste of Spring\u2019 as well as sell maple products including maple syrup, maple candy and other maple items. Many also offer sugarhouse open houses and tours.\n\n\u201cA sure sign of Spring is when the sugar houses are at their busiest producing Massachusetts maple syrup that is second to none,\u201d said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. \u201cI 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.\u201d\n\n\u201cIt\u0027s always great to have Commissioner Lebeaux come out to Western Massachusetts to highlight our great farms and food producers,\u201d said State Representative Peter Kocot (D-Northampton). \u201cI\u0027m a big fan of maple products and my district produces some of the best maple syrup in the country.\u201d\n\n\u201cRecognizing 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,\u201d said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts \u0026 Cultural Development. \u201cAgri-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.\u201d\n\nMarch 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.\n\nThe 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.\n\nGo to the MassGrown website and click on maple for a complete listing of maple sugar houses.