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Proposal aims to help New England maple producers tap into more federal funding

UNH Cooperative Extension/Steve Roberge

As climate change and rising temperatures have put increasing stress on the maple syrup industry, a group of New England senators — including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire — is sponsoring legislation to help the region’s syrup producers.

The proposal, which would increase funding for the federal maple support program to $30 million dollars, would fund new research, education, natural resource sustainability and promotion for the industry.

Local syrup producers said the help is much needed.

Mike Benton, a fifth-generation maple producer in Thornton, said many sugar houses need updated equipment to adapt to rising temperatures, which affect production patterns in maple trees.

“If [smaller producers] can get some more technology to work with they’d be better off in the long run because it’s not the way it used to be,” he said.

Mark Fortin of Two Sappy Guys Sugar House in Bedford shared excitement about the prospect of any increased support.

“We’re a small producer, so any help we can get certainly helps," he said. "We’ve never operated in the green, we’re always in the red."

The act would be part of the U.S. farm bill, which Congress reauthorizes every five years to support agriculture nationwide. In New Hampshire, the state government and research institutions like the University of New Hampshire would be eligible to apply.