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NY specialty crops push for farm bill insurance
New York Ag Connection - 04/02/2024

New York specialty crop farmers, including maple syrup producers, are lobbying for inclusion in the upcoming farm bill. Currently, crops like apples and grapes receive federal disaster relief for certain weather events, but others, like maple syrup, lack such coverage.

Highlighting the issue, New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher says the new farm bill needs to address the unique needs of specialty crop growers and expand insurance coverage. This is especially important for New York, the second-largest maple syrup producer in the nation, with over 2,000 producers and an industry valued at $30 million.

Dwayne Hill, owner of a maple farm in Harpersfield, exemplifies the challenges faced by these producers. He taps 11,000 trees and produces 5,000 gallons of syrup annually. However, there's no federal insurance program to cover potential losses due to unpredictable weather patterns. Maple syrup production heavily relies on freeze-thaw cycles, and drastic changes in temperature can significantly impact yield.

Hill emphasizes the gamble involved. Tapping thousands of trees requires significant time and labor investment before the sap even runs. While some areas in the state might have good years, others could face losses. Insurance coverage would provide a safety net, allowing producers to maintain customer bases by purchasing syrup from other regions during lean years.

Specialty crop farmers like Hill hope the new farm bill recognizes their specific needs and offers them the security of crop insurance, similar to what other agricultural sectors already enjoy.

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