Public lands: maple syrup producers urge Quebec to unveil its strategic plan

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Public lands: maple syrup producers urge Quebec to unveil its strategic plan

Maple producer Justin Plourde, from Rivière-Bleue, in Témiscouata

To meet growing global demand, Quebec maple syrup producers want to produce even more maple syrup and tap an area of ​​200,000 hectares on Crown land. But now, the government is delaying delivering its strategic plan on the use of public lands, which has been awaited for a year and a half.

Last year, Quebec produced a record 211 million pounds of maple syrup. If the 2023 season has started, it is still too early to measure its magnitude. What is certain, however, in the eyes of the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (PPAQ), is that with the growing demand on a global scale, the increase in production depends on the exploitation of public lands.< /p>

  • 85% of Quebec production is exported
  • The province accounts for 72% of world production

Currently, 20% of maple syrup is produced on public land. We would like 30% within 60 years to support needs. This represents approximately 200,000 hectares, explains PPAQ communications director Joël Vaudeville. From 2020 to 2021, we had a 20% increase in exports, from 2021 to 2022, another 20%. Operation on public land is essential to support this growth, he says.

Director of Communications and the warehouse manager of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers in Laurierville, Joël Vaudeville and Kevin Gauthier

Producers believe that several projects will be delayed or even put on hold if the government does not quickly clarify the rules of the game. Thousands of liters of syrup will not be produced.

The public lands represent potential for development in the Outaouais, in the Laurentians, in Estrie, near the American border, as well as in Gaspésie and in the Bas-Saint-Laurent.

Maple producer Justin Plourde operates 37,000 taps, including 7,200 on public lands in the Rivière-Bleue sector, in Témiscouata.

< p>“Public land allows us to develop larger sugar bushes. Because on private land, it is difficult to have a clump of trees in the same place and the price of lots has exploded. »

— Justin Plourde, maple syrup producer

Most of the large sugar bushes are in public forests. That's why in Bas-Saint-Laurent, we have maple groves that are a little larger than the rest of Quebec, he continues.

M. Plourde has an expansion project of 10,000 notches on public lands that he wants to get under way this fall. But it will depend on the constraints.

In this region of Eastern Quebec, the development of the next 10 to 15 years on Crown land is already determined.

Maple producer Justin Plourde in front of his warehouse

Maple producers nevertheless require clarification from term and also clarifications on the layout. For example, tapping standards, the minimum diameter of maple trees to be tapped on these lands.

What will it be, the 8-inch or 9-inch standard, which will apply?, he asks. A determining standard on the number of taps and ultimately on production.

He has been waiting for the government's plan for 18 months.

The industry has received the support of nearly 300 municipalities and some twenty regional county municipalities (RCMs) in its crusade, including several in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie.

Faced with this expectation, producer Justin Plourde does not mince his words towards elected officials. Especially since the Minister of Natural Resources and Forests Maïté Blanchette Vézina is also the minister responsible for her region.

“We are disappointed because the recognition of our elected officials, we do not have it. It's okay when it's sugar time to make a little press release and say that we're proud of the maple syrup producers… But this requires a clear commitment from our minister. »

— Justin Plourde, maple syrup producer

Maple producer Justin Plourde performs tubing maintenance .

In writing, Minister Blanchette Vézina's office indicates that the harmonization of uses is an essential issue when it comes to public forests. This is why you have to take the time to do things right.

We also specify that in 2021, during the most recent increase in the quota, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MRNF) has made available approximately 24,000 hectares for maple syrup producers.

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