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      Maple syrup farmers look to tap into state's potential growth

      A group of local farmers are asking the state for support to help make Michigan a global force in the maple syrup industry.


      A

      group of local farmers are asking the state for support to help make
      Michigan a global force in the maple syrup industry.


      M

      ichigan has more than 275 million sugar maple trees ready to be tapped

      , but less than 1% are being used each year for syrup production.


      C

      raig
      Waldron is the largest maple syrup producer in the state. His farm, Far Hills Maple Syrup, in Alanson has more than 28 thousand maple tree taps.


      "

      Michigan has more maple trees than all of Quebec does just by itself and
      Quebec makes 85-88% of syrup in the world," Waldron said.


      He

      says he is tired of watching
      Canada dominate the industry, when there is plenty of untapped potential right here in the state.


      "

      We only
      tap less than two tenths of 1% of the available maple trees that the state has," Waldron said.


      W

      aldr

      o

      n chairs the
      Commercial Maple Syrup Producers of Michigan organization, which recently received a $10,000 grant from the state to pursue a study about the possible growth of the industry.


      "

      If Michigan was even to go to the level of utilization of Vermont does it would grow Michigan

      '

      s industry by millions and millions and millions of dollars

      ," Waldron said.


      S

      tudies show that if
      Michigan farmers just tapped 3% of the state's trees, they would make nearly $80 million a year. Which would dwarf Vermont, that at the same rate makes $30 million annually.


      "

      Vermont has just done a lot better job as a state of promoting the industry and that's one of the things we hope to change

      ," Waldron said.


      T

      h

      e

      grant is part of a
      $2.5 million program set up to expand Michigan's agriculture industry.

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