Brief History of the Development of the North American Maple Syrup Council
Under the Research and Marketing Act of 1946 utilization studies on three additional commodities including maple syrup commenced at the Eastern Regional Laboratory in Philadelphia. Dr. Charles O. Willits, an Analytical Chemist, was asked to head up the new formed Maple Unit. The new Maple Research Program was directed toward improvement of the quality of maple syrup, development of improved methods of production and processing, development of new and extended uses of maple products and propagation of high yielding maple trees. Dr. Willits soon became aware of the lack of communication between the maple producing states. Dr. Willits felt it was necessary to bring representative of the maple industry together on a national basis to improve communications.
Acting on his recommendation, the directors of the USDA Experimental Stations in the eastern area decided to organize a conference on maple products to take place in 1950. The first conference on maple products was help at the Eastern Regional Research Laboratory November 13-15, 1950. The conference was a great success and close to 100 people attended. The meeting was attended by researchers, maple extension personnel, maple equipment producers and dealers, maple packers and retailers, representatives of maple associations and maple producers. The conference became a triennial event and eight conferences were held during the period 195-1971. the last conference of this type being held in Boyne Falls, Michigan, October 1971.
For the fourth triennial conference Dr. Willits asked Milton R. Thibaudeau of the Four Seasons Maple Camp, Luxemburg, Wisconsin to speak on “A National Maple Syrup Council.” As a result of his talk an ad hoc committee met on October 27, 1959. The initial meeting of the Council was held the following day with acting chairman Thibaudeau and Acting Secretary, Mrs. John B. Zimmerman empowered to draw up a proposed constitution and by-laws for consideration before the organizing meting which would be held a year later. This organizing meeting of the National Maple Syrup Council took place at the Manor House, Punderson State Park near Burton, Ohio in October 1960.
The purposes of the Council were to promote research: (a) in the chemistry and technology of maple sap and the products derived from it; (b) in maple bush management and disease control; (c) in markets and marketing of maple products and standardization of the maple products without government regimentation through encouraging development of efficient methods and equipment within the industry. The membership fee was set at $25.00 per year for each maple producing state. The officers elected for 1960-61 were Milton Thibaudeau, Chairman; Lloyd Sipple, Vice Chairman; Dorothy Zimmerman, Secretary-Treasurer. Six states became charter members of the Council. There were as follows: Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin.
The highlight of the 1961 meeting in Luxemburg, Wisconsin, was a decision to publish a newsletter. Thus the Maple Syrup Digest was born. No funds were appropriated and no committee was appointed. It was left to Lloyd Sipple, Vice Chairman from Bainbridge, New York, to see what he could do on his own. IN January 1962, the first issue of the National Maple Syrup Digest was published. It contained 12 pages and about 6500 copies were printed and distributed. Three more issues were that year in February, July and November. The Digest soon became the most important communications link in the Maple Industry. In the beginning it was mailed free of charge to all known maple producers. Lloyd with the assistance of his wife would continue for over twenty-eight years, producing and editing this most interesting Digest. In total, 113 issues were produced by them. Their last issue was June 1990. It was a most spectacular record of achievement for Lloyd and his wife Mary Lou. At that time current editor Roy Hutchinson of Canterbury, NH, took over.
The third Annual Meeting in 1962, was held in Philadelphia, in conjunction with the 5thTriennial Maple Conference at the USDA Laboratory. Two new member states joined at that time, namely Michigan and New Hampshire, bringing the total membership to 8 states.
In 1964, the fifth Annual Meeting was held in Greenfield, Mass. At this meeting the state of Maine became the ninth member. At the 7th Annual Meeting in Antigo, Wisconsin, Minnesota became the tenth member.
At the ninth Annual Meeting in 1968 at Philadelphia, Dr. Clyde Underwood gave a report on the first Reverse Osmosis Machine built at the Philadelphia Laboratory and use on maple sap the previous spring.
In 1973, the 14th Annual Meeting was a milestone. It took place in Canada for the first time at Orillia, Ontario. It was hosted by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association. At this meeting the directors amended the Constitution and By-Laws of the Council to allow maple producing provinces to join if they wished. The name of the Council was amended to “The North American Maple Syrup Council.”
Soon after the Annual Meeting of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association in Picton, on October 19, the membership voted unanimously to accept an invitation to join the North American Maple Syrup Council.
At the 15th Annual Meeting of the Council in October 1974 at Keene, NH, Ontario was installed as the first Canadian member of the Council. This brought the membership of the Council to eleven.
Connecticut became the twelfth member of the Council at the 19th Annual Meeting at Clymer, NY.
AT the 20th Meeting in Deerfield, Mass., in 1979, word came from the U.S. Bureau of Standards that the grade terminology as approved in 1977 would be put into effect for the coming year. This appeared in the Federal Resister, December 14, 1979. This ended a long struggle for the Council concerning uniform grading terminology.
At the 22nd Annual Meeting in Orillia, Ontario, Nova Scotia was accepted as the thirteenth member of the Council. In 1987, New Brunswick became the 14th member of the Council at the 28th Annual Meeting in Duluth, Minnesota.
In 1992 at the 33rd Annual Meeting in Concord, Ohio, Quebec and Indiana became the 15thand 16th Members of the Council.
The Council has grown enormously since the acceptance of its first six charter members in 1961. It now represents the majority of maple producers and maple production throughout North America. Thus by representation, the Council is now stronger than ever before. This is a most welcome situation as the Maple Industry moves toward the challenges of the 21stcentury.