Maine Delegation Urges Direct Relief for Maple Syrup Producers through USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of maple syrup producers’ eligibility for direct relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). CFAP, created through the CARES Act, will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers. In the letter, the Delegation also noted their full support of a letter recently sent by Governor Janet Mills, which outlined the necessity of this relief for the Maine maple syrup industry.
“Maine is proud to be the country’s third-largest producer of maple syrup, and home to more than 550 maple syrup producers whose combined output totaled 580,000 gallons with a value of $21.6 million last year alone. This is a strong sector of our state’s agricultural economy, representing more than 800 full- and part-time jobs,” Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden wrote.
“The CFAP was established to provide ‘vital assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities,’” the Maine Delegation continued. “This criteria describes the situation facing maple syrup producers in Maine and across the United States, who should be permitted to apply for the crucial support that CFAP provides.”
Similar to other agricultural producers across the country, maple syrup producers in the State of Maine have suffered greatly due to COVID-19. The impact on this industry is even more acute than most, however, given its short season from late February to mid-April and heavy reliance on direct-to-consumer sales. Every March, sugarhouses across Maine host Maple Sunday events, an annual celebration showcasing maple syrup operations throughout Maine that serves as a catalyst for sales. Due to the pandemic, this collection of events was effectively cancelled this year, eliminating many producers’ best opportunity to connect with consumers and secure sales.
To date, a total of $7.46 million has been awardedthrough CFAP to Maine farmers to help offset the financial harm they have experienced due to COVID-19.
The USDA is continuing to accept applications from farmers through August 28. More information about CFAP and the application process can be found on USDA’s resource page: Farmers.gov/cfap.
Click HERE to read the full letter.