Argyelan says small producers should not be worried. He told Nickerson, "We’re not threatening anyone. We should be good for everyone. We’re expanding maple production, turning timberland into sustainable sugarbush (the term for semi-wild, groomed maple woods). We’ve created jobs. We’re looking to devise new products. We’re natural, we’re organic; we’re non-GMO; we’re kosher and halal.’’
Small producers are not buying that logic, Nickerson writes. Adam Parke, a Christmas-tree grower who also makes syrup from 1,800 trees in Barton, Vt., told Nickerson, “This is a big corporation intruding on a traditional way of life. The Vermont maple syrup business has always been about individual producers—you can put a name and face to most operations. Growth is great. What’s not great is watching a beloved local industry hijacked by suits sitting in a boardroom somewhere." (Globe graphic)
Sweet Tree "workers have already tapped 200,000 maples on 26,000 acres of forest purchased or leased in the backlands of Essex Country," Nickerson writes. "More than 6,000 miles of vacuum tubing—enough to stretch from frigid Island Pond to sunny San Diego and back—siphon the sap from tree taps to a reverse osmosis plant, where water content is reduced with high-tech equipment. Next it is transported to the gleaming, state-of-the-art sugar factory for boiling in four mammoth, steam-fired evaporators capable of turning out 2,400 gallons of Grade A per hour. By comparison, the average producer in Vermont has 3,451 taps and makes 1,221 gallons per year—and even the state’s mega-producers run to only about 100,000 taps."