AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills has called for the USDA to designate maple syrup as an eligible Coronavirus Food Assistance Program specialty crop, according to a June 22 news release.
Doing so will create the pathway for Maine's maple producers to receive needed CFAP payments, per the release.
Maple is currently ineligible for CFAP, and the industry is suffering due to a variety of factors due to COVID-19 including price drops, annual event cancellations, and restaurant closures.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult for Maine’s approximately 557 maple syrup producers, the release noted.
Maine is the third-largest producer of maple syrup in America, per the release, with 580,000 gallons produced in 2019 and an overall production value of $21.6 million.
Maine’s growing maple industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full- and part-time jobs, and $25.1 million in labor income, wrote Governor Mills in her request to the USDA’s Farm Service Administration to include maple syrup as a specialty crop that can receive economic support through CFAP.
“Governor Mills’ support of our maple producing families comes at a time when it has become clear that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their market in multiple ways,” commented Amanda Beal, DACF Commissioner. “Maple producers are clearly in need of and should qualify for CFAP relief funds, and we are hopeful that the USDA will agree and make the needed adjustments to their criteria in response to the Governor’s request.”
USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue implemented the CFAP on May 20 to assist agricultural producers impacted by the effects of the pandemic. CFAP establishes provisions for direct payments to producers of eligible specialty and non-specialty crops.