A legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
This year’s maple syrup production season broke a 70-year-old state record.
Maple producers recorded collecting more than 700,000 gallons of maple syrup, which was an 18% increase over the harvest in 2015.
Warmer-than-normal temperatures extended the maple syrup season and the number of taps also increased.
In fact, producers recorded the most taps since 1947.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Services estimates that New York is responsible for 1/6th of the nation’s maple syrup output.
We’re fortunate in this area to have access to so much homegrown produce, from maple syrup to onions, to fresh strawberries and sweet corn.
This time of year there are many opportunities to take advantage of the local harvests at local farmers’ markets.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, honey, and cheese can all be found nearby and in usually in abundance.
Farmers’ markets also provide consumers with the opportunity to purchase homegrown produce straight from the farmer.
Thankfully, consumer demand for locally-grown produce has grown in recent years and the state has worked to make local produce more accessible to low-income residents through the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is a great program that helps connect eligible seniors with locally-grown produce.
Residents who are 60 and older may apply and receive coupons that can be redeemed for fresh produce at participating farmers’ markets.
Each coupon booklet enables residents to purchase $20 worth of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ markets.
The program is funded by the federal government but is managed by local Offices for the Aging.
This is the second year in a row state funds have been used in combination with federal dollars since the program’s inception in 2004.
This year’s budget again allocated an additional $500,000 to the program, on top of the federal $1.5 million portion, which is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Offices for the Aging distribute the coupon booklets, and those who qualify have to pick them up in person.
To find out more, Oswego County residents may call (315) 349-3484, Jefferson County residents may call (315) 785-3191 and Onondaga County residents may call (315) 435-2362.
To find a farmers’ market near you, call your local town, village or city offices, or the chamber of commerce, or visit the New York State Department of Agriculture’s website at http://on.ny.gov/293HX95.
Supporting our local farmers helps ensure homegrown food and produce stays homegrown.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by calling (315) 598-5185.
You also can find me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.