Selling Maple Products

Maple sugar matters in Wisconsin.

By the numbers: 

  • Wisconsin is currently fourth in the nation in maple syrup production. In 2023, the state produced 402,000 gallons of maple syrup, and the 2022 crop was valued at $14 million (USDA NASS).
  • Wisconsin has 3.7 million acres of maple forests, and only a small fraction of the trees (<0.5%) are currently being used for maple syrup production. As demand for maple syrup continues to grow nationally and internationally, there is great potential for growth in the industry.
  • There are thousands of maple syrup makers in the state. Producers range from hobbyists who tap only a couple trees in their yard to large-scale, full-time businesses that make maple syrup from tens of thousands of trees. The vast majority of producers are small scale, tapping up to a couple hundred trees.

(Click the (+) to expand the content.)

Food Safety Regulations

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is responsible for ensuring that maple syrup and other maple food products are produced safely in the state. These requirements come from Wis. Admin. Code § ATCP 87 (Honey and Maple Syrup). Licensed facilities also must meet requirements in Wis. Admin. Code § ATCP 70 (Wholesale Food Manufacturing).

Iron County Extension’s food regulations decision tool helps producers of all size operations determine which food safety licenses and registrations are appropriate for their operation. This is an educational tool only. The final authority in any food safety licensing decision lies with DATCP. Local and federal rules may also apply to your maple operation.

Food Safety for Maple Businesses – WI Maple Hour Mar. ’23

This ‘Maple Hour’ features UW-Madison Professor of Food Science, Barbara Ingham. She provides guidance on food safety planning for food businesses using maple sugar in products like maple-flavored sauces and dressings, sparkling maple water, and infused maple syrup.

Moving from hobby scale to commercial production can be a big step. This section highlights the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) food safety requirements and a food regulation decision tool created by colleagues from UW-Madison Extension Iron County.

Maple Sap Use-Value Assessment for Wisconsin Woodland Owners

Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue – Use Value Assessment for Maple Sap Collection in Wisconsin

The above video was made for assessors, but it has beneficial information about the assessment process for landowners. It provides more specific information discussed in this article.

As a landowner who taps maple trees for sap collection or rents land for sap gathering, it is important to understand if your forest qualifies for use-value classification, which can potentially lower your property taxes. The first step in this process is an assessor conducting an on-site inspection of your operation the year before your annual January assessment. Ideally, such inspection should take place during the msap gathering season. It is important to have all necessary materials and equipment on hand during the inspection, as the assessor will be looking for things like visible tap marks, a road or path to the collection sites, tree management, a predominance of maple trees, and a sugar shack with syrup-making equipment.

The North American Industry Classification System manual provides guidelines for determining if an operation meets industry standards and qualifies for use-value classification. These guidelines take into account factors such as the number of acres, the diameter of the trees at breast height, the minimum number of taps per acre, and the minimum number of trees per acre. It is important to note that the operation must meet all of the requirements outlined in the manual in order to qualify for use-value classification.

If the assessor determines that your operation meets the necessary industry standards and qualifies for use-value classification, it’s important to remember that the personal property used for tapping will be exempt from property taxes, but the sugar shack will be assessable. Retail operations and bottling operations related to your maple syrup will be classified as commercial.

If you believe your operation qualifies for use-value classification but it has not been classified as such, you can contact your local assessor to request an on-site inspection. It is important to have documentation of your operation, including evidence of the diameter of the trees, the number of taps per tree, and the number of taps per acre. If your request for use-value classification is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision at the Board of Review.

Here is an additional resource about use-value assessment for maple sap producers:

Maple syrup production is considered an agricultural activity by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) and woodlands where sap is collected may be assessed as agriculture use-value for property tax purposes, saving producers money. Expand this section to learn more.

Other helpful links

Many other organizations and state Extension programs have good information about operating a maple business. Here are a few that we recommend:

Find Wisconsin maple syrup and products

The Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association has a great map tool* to help you find local maple syrup and other maple products.

*Please note that the map features members of the WMSPA. There are additional sources of Wisconsin maple syrup not indicated on the map. 

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