Sap Selling Season

A sap hydrometer measures the sugar content in a load of sap.

Maple sap harvesting has been underway in many US regions. Now well into March, the season is in full swing.

If you are in the business of selling sap or thinking about starting to, UVM Extension has business resources available to help. For example, you can use our Sap Pricing Calculator to determine the price per gallon paid to the seller or determine  Profit and Loss from Sap Hauling

The Economic Advantage of Sap-Only
Specializing in sap production and selling sap in a business-to-business transaction offers many advantages. Sap sellers are able to reduce their capital investments and focus specifically on sap production activity. Recent research shows that sap-only enterprises may require just 50% of the capital investment compared to a similar sized sap-to-syrup processing business. A typical 5,000 tap enterprise on previously owned property is estimated to require $100k-$120k in sap collection investments. For the same enterprise to invest in syrup processing capacity at least another $110k in capital start-up is expected. Sap sellers can focus their labor and attention to high yielding sap harvest systems without spreading skills and attention into the business of syrup processing, grading, packaging and sales.

Syrup processors see a significant advantage from sap purchasing as well. The investment in a sugar house and the processing equipment is significant. Many syrup processors are seeing the benefits of sizing their facility in order to purchase-in additional sap and increase their equipment usage to enhance profitability. These relationships also enable successful maple brands to supply more customers and focus on the market development logistics to expand maple demand.

Visit www.maplemanager.org for more maple business resources.

Registration is Open for UVM Maple Business Short Courses

UVM Extension offers two online short courses for current and prospective maple producers that begin in late October. Each course includes four classes (1.5 hours each), once per week, and teaching assignments that get participants completing real time analysis and making immediate decisions to enhance their business. Registration in now open for the Maple Business Planning and Maple Financial Planning short courses.

For more information see the course descriptions and registration information on the Events page at www.maplemanger.org. Or click the file below to view or share the informational flyer.

Maple Market Insights

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, with the Atlantic Corporation, has created an online interface that enables users to explore results from a 2020 Northeast United States consumer preferences survey.  Maple sellers can run interactive analyses of the results from over 1,500 participants at The Maple Data Dashboard to investigate the market demand for maple products.

UVM Maple business has published the summary fact sheet Maple Market Insights with key findings from the market research and the link to the interactive Maple Data Dashboard at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture website.

UVM Agricultural Business is Hiring: Online Education and Communications Coordinator

Overview: University of Vermont Extension has three projects in 2021-2022 that include online education events, project webpages and communications initiatives to disseminate project resources to target stakeholders. UVM is seeking an experienced individual capable of coordinating ongoing online educational events and developing a multi-media communications plan to expand the reach of the projects. The selected candidate will work closely with the maple extension specialist and maple business project directors, oversee 3rd party consultants and coordinate external services to implement the communications plan. This is a part time position.

View the job summary with application instructions.

UVM Maple Webinar Series Begins in July

Maple syrup sample jars (Credit: Mark Isselhardt)

University of Vermont maple, business development and forestry specialists will present a series of online webinars starting July 21st 2021. Session information and registration is now available for eight sessions offered from late July through October. Register now on the Upcoming Events page at www.maplemanager.org or download the program schedule here: UVM 2021 Maple Webinar.

Topics will include: red maple syrup research, forest carbon, financial benchmarks, maple start-up investment profiles, sap-only enterprises, Northeast forest tax policy and more. Presenters will include: Abby van den Berg (Research Associate Professor), Anthony D’Amato (Director UVM Forestry Program), Mark Isselhardt (Maple Specialist), Mark Cannella (Extension Associate Professor) and Chris Lindgren (Forest Business Coordinator).

Register Today at www.maplemanager.org !

New Maple Business Reports – Summer 2021

Sap hydrometer measures sugar content.

The UVM Extension Maple Business program has published several new resources for maple business owners and forest landowners. The following publications add to the growing list of guides and financial planning calculators at www.maplemanager.org:

Legal Entity Structures for Maple Producers: This guide describes several legal entities appropriate for single or multiple owners of a maple business. Set-up and maintenance considerations for LLC’s, LLP’s, partnerships and joint ventures will help existing and new owners find the right entity to meet their ownership goals.

Joint Venture Template: This document includes the major considerations that partners should discuss and agree upon when setting up a joint venture.

Northeast Maple Business Benchmark (2019): This most recent report summarizes financial performance and business metrics from a sample of maple enterprises in the northeast United States. Business records from 6,000 – 60,000+ taps maple businesses demonstrate investment requirements, cost of production and profitability.

Visit www.maplemanger.org for maple business development and forestry resources today.

New Report: The Impact of Covid-19 on Farm and Food Businesses in Vermont

A new report has been published by University of Vermont that documents how Covid-19 has impacted food system businesses in Vermont.  The report, authored by Meredeth Niles and several other researchers, is available online here: “COVID-19 Impacts on Vermont Farms and Food Businesses: Pivots, Needs and Opportunities for the Future”

Here is a summary below:

This report highlights results from a survey of Vermont farm and food businesses conducted during August and September 2020, with a total of 223 respondents. The survey was distributed via a number of non-profit, business, and state agencies in Vermont. Respondents included farms, food and farm product retail, agritourism operators, on-farm food processors, food and beverage manufacturers, nurseries/greenhouses/garden centers, and food hubs/aggregators. Overall, we find the majority of respondents experienced a COVID-19 business impact, especially in market and financial ways. We also find that the majority of respondents had business changes they wanted to make, but couldn’t because of a lack of financial resources, inadequate equipment, or personal challenges. While the majority of respondents didn’t apply for COVID-19 grants and programs, those that did were significantly more likely to agree they had the financial resources to make necessary business changes. We also identify help recovery strategies including the need for market assistance to shift to online platforms. Finally, we identify that the majority of respondents indicated perceived stress at the time of the survey, further highlighting the need for mental health resources related to COVID-19. We discuss future opportunities for recovery efforts and resilience in the Vermont food system.

Support for Farms Applying to Covid-Relief Grants

UVM Extension Farm Viability business advisors are working with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) Viability network to offer assistance to all farmers with the Vermont Covid Ag Assistance Program . VHCB has an intake form here to request assistance with your grant application.

The deadline for grant applications is October 1, 2020. To learn more about the program visit the website: VT Covid-19 Agricultural Assistance Program

 A number of other programs have emerged to provide funds or support services to farms across Vermont. See the Ag Covid Program Directory below. This document includes several links to grants, FSA payment programs and educational events.

New Grants for Vermont Farm Covid-19 Business Recovery

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has announced it will begin accepting applications the week of August 17th for the new Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance grants program. This program is designed for non-dairy farmers, poultry/livestock producers and farmers’ markets. Applications will be accepted and awarded on a first come-first served basis until October 1st. VAAFM is hosting online informational webinars for applicants and service provider organization supporting the business owner application process this week and next week. See the VAAFM grants webpage to get application and grant information: Agriculture and Working Lands Assistance grants program.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is also offering the Dairy Assistance grants program and the Agricultural Fairs grant program that support enterprises that have prior or ongoing income loss or increased costs due to the Covid-19 economic impact. Both programs have online applications available now.

Vermont Small Farm Viability and Conservation Report

UVM Extension has released a report that documents conservation adoption and economic viability on Certified Small Farm Operations. Conservation and Farm Viability on Vermont Small Farms (FBRR035) is available online. This report summarizes responses from over 170 Vermont farms to a 2019 survey. UVM Agricultural Business explores the current situations that business owners face and the major issues moving forward.