N.B. maple syrup producers plan strike after waiting two years on a request to government for more land

Maple syrup producers in New Brunswick are gathering on Thursday for a protest after they say the provincial government has not answered their request for more Crown land to increase production.

In a release posted to the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association’s (NBMSA) website, it says it has been two years since the NBMSA and its member-producers requested 12,000 additional hectares on Crown land to increase their annual maple syrup production to meet global demand.

"Enough of the silent treatment," reads the release from NBMSA. "We demand our fair share of Crown land allocations."

Louise Poitras, executive director of the NBMSA, says the industry grew its production by 40 per cent in the year 2021 alone.

"We have a worldwide reputation,” said Poitras.

Poitras says there are about 250 maple syrup producers in New Brunswick, 100 of whom are members of the NBMSA.

"If we can tap into more hectares it means more production and a bigger economy for our province. It's a win... and we don't understand government being silent and not cooperating,” Poitras said.

As the third largest maple syrup producer in the world, New Brunswick has a big hold on the market.

"Twelve-thousand hectares would mean about one-million or one-million-point-five taps. That would be the answer to the world demand. Quebec is already answering with seven-million taps and that's a lot. And they already gave it away, so producers are tapping into that right away,” Jean-François Laplante, president of NBMSA.

Maple syrup production is a part of the province's forest management plan and those with NBMSA say they want to co-exist with the timber industry.

"It's a government that's allowing timber companies to cut into the maple ridge adjacent to existing maple sugaries," said Poitras.

New Brunswick’s Green Party Leader David Coon says groups such as the association need to rise up to avoid becoming collateral damage in forestry management.

"In 2014, under the former conservative government, they basically turned the Crown lands over to Irving and the other large forest industry players and said this is now your realm,” Coon said.

Natural Resources and Energy Development sent a statement to CTV News stating:

“When decisions about access to Crown resources are considered, full consideration is given to the long-term value to the public. [Natural Resources and Energy Development] has received an expansion plan, and we are evaluating it against all the other land uses that are possible, like we do with any request.”  

NBMSA will be holding its protest Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Maple Leaf – Centennial Park in Saint-Quentin, N.B.