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Que. to offer maple syrup production insurance

About 6,000 maple syrup producers in Quebec are expected to be eligible for a new provincial yield insurance program starting this year.

The program, announced Monday by the provincial ag finance agency, La Financiere agricole du Quebec, is for producers whose annual yield, under quota, is at least 2,000 pounds of maple syrup.

The “personalized” insurance program will cover producers up to a certain volume when their yields are affected by poor climate conditions.

Provincial Agriculture Minister Laurent Lessard said in a release Monday that maple syrup production in recent years has been particularly dependent on the quirks of the weather, leading to serious financial losses for some producers.

Premiums for this yield insurance program would be paid by the producer as well as the federal and provincial governments, the province noted.

Producers can expect to see the pertinent information on the new insurance program within a couple of weeks, and will have until March 15 to sign up for the 2009 insurance year.

According to the Federation des producteurs acericoles du Quebec, the province provided 71 per cent of world maple syrup production in 2004, and about 91 per cent of Canadian production.

About 51 per cent of the province’s maple groves have 3,000 or fewer taps, while 12 per cent have 10,000 or more and just one per cent have over 30,000, the group said.

About 85 per cent of the province’s output is sold in bulk for processing or redistribution. The federation said the province’s 2007 receipts from the maple syrup crop are estimated at about $136 million.

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