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Maple syrup producers in New Brunswick will receive $300,000 in the coming fiscal year for silviculture operations on sugar bush stands.

Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles said, “This year our government provided $300,000 for thinning and spacing of sugar bushes to enhance the health and productivity of maple operations,” said Stiles. “I’m very pleased that a further $300,000 has been committed to continue this work in the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2009.”

Last month, Stiles told the annual general meeting of the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association that he was working to ensure funding would continue.

“This is an important and historical industry for New Brunswick, and our government is committed to supporting both existing and new producers in the development of their businesses,” Stiles said. “We recognize the contributions that maple syrup producers make to our provincial economy, and we want to see these operations become more productive, efficient and profitable.”

Funding for the initiative is made possible through the Regional Development Corporation’s Total Development Fund. It will enhance the operability and viability of the maple syrup industry, which employs over 2,000 seasonal workers annually.

Thinning and spacing remove unhealthy trees, and allow sugar bush stands to grow more quickly and produce higher-quality trees.

New Brunswick ranks among the largest producers of maple syrup products in the world. About 300 operations produce four million pounds of syrup every season, representing $12 million in revenues locally, nationally, and through exports of syrup and value-added products to the U.S. and other countries.

The funding for silviculture operations on sugar bush stands is the second silviculture increase announced by the provincial government in a month. On Jan. 29, Premier Shawn Graham announced an additional $5 million for silviculture operations on Crown land for the fiscal year beginning April 1. That increase will generate about 250 jobs this year.

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