SUMMARY FROM THE IMSI BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Date: Thursday August 9th, 2012
Location: Agricultural Research Centre, St. Hyacinthe, PQ
The International Maple Syrup Institute held their quarterly Board of Directors meeting at the Agricultural Research Centre in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec on Thursday August 9th, 2012. The meeting was well attended by IMSI Directors, IMSI members and guests. This summary is being provided in advance of more detailed formal minutes from the meeting, which will be distributed later.
2012 Maple Syrup Supply & Crop Report:
Some states and provinces reported crop yields, which were much lower than they experienced over the past few years. It was reported that states west of Ohio had a very poor year and best crop yields were reported in northern New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the state of Maine who reported a very good year. Reports regarding the Quebec crop indicate that yields were poor in western Quebec but better in other areas of the province (May 2012). It is estimated that about 95 million pounds of syrup was produced. At the IMSI Board of Directors meeting, it was reported that there was an estimated 36 million pounds of syrup in reserve in Quebec and that the reserve amount has not been significantly diminished to-date by buyers in 2012 but this information has not yet been verified. It was mentioned that generally lighter syrup was more difficult to access than darker syrup, but this was not the case in New Brunswick. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has not yet provided a report to the IMSI on the 2012 maple crop.
2012 Directors& Annual IMSI & NAMSC Annual Meeting in Mystic, Connecticut in October:
IMSI President Richard Norman updated those attending the meeting regarding the upcoming IMSI & North American Maple Syrup Council meetings in October. The 2012 Annual Meetings will be held from Monday, October 22nd to Thursday, October 25th at the Mystic Marriot Hotel in Mystic, Connecticut. The IMSI’s Board of Directors meeting will be held from 8:30 - 3:00 pm on Monday October 22nd and the IMSI’s Annual Meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 23rd from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Room reservations may be made by calling Marriott reservation department at 866-449-7390. Tell the agent that you are with the Maple Syrup Producers Association and they will book you within the block room booking.
Dave Chapeskie outlined the format for the IMSI Annual meeting as developed by the IMSI’s Executive Committee. Time has been allocated as follows: one-half hour for the general business meetings; one-half hour for a presentation on maple nutritional and health benefits and one hour to report Canadian and US findings from the IMSI’s market trial exposure which has been carried out for the new maple grading system which has been proposed for adoption by the IMSI.
Richard mentioned that planning for the Annual meetings was progressing well and Mark Harran confirmed that he will require the IMSI’s contribution to the program booklet from the Executive Director by September 1st.
Information regarding the program, is posted both on the Connecticut Maple Syrup Producers website http://www.ctmaple.org/ under News and Events. This includes the preliminary overall program outline, the technical program details, the registration package as well as other detailed conference information. You may contact Dave Chapeskie or Richard Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Renewal and Modernization of the IMSI Website:
The intent of this project is to enhance the utility and effectiveness of the IMSI’s website. Dave Chapeskie circulated information and provided a live demonstration of the IMSI’s proposed new website. Dave mentioned that Kathy Hopkins, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Karl Zander, webmaster, NAMSC, Ray Bonenberg, IMSI Director and Angela Wheeler, Maple Consultant reviewed the draft site. Feedback on the new site was generally positive and useful suggestions were provided from the review. It was agreed by the IMSI Board of Director representatives at the meeting that the full Board of IMSI Directors would be afforded an opportunity to review the site and offer comments following the Board meeting. This Board review was completed on Friday August 17th and arrangements are now being made with the web consultant for the new site to go live with the English side before the end of August. The intent is then to work towards finalizing the French side of the site with a target to complete this work by the time of the Annual IMSI & NAMSC meetings to be held in Mystic, Connecticut. Yvon Poitras indicated that he would help facilitate any translation of text and documents required for the French side of the renewed IMSI website.
Testing and Adulteration of Maple Syrup:
Dave Chapeskie mentioned that the IMSI continues to offer assistance to the IMSI members with adulteration testing of suspected syrups in the North American and international market place. After discussion, it was decided that the IMSI’s Executive Director would complete a more detailed assessment of the different laboratory facilities, including specific sugars assessed, rigour of testing protocols and quality criteria utilized by the different laboratories. Dave will present his findings to the IMSI’s Board of Directors including options available at the next IMSI Board meeting to be held in Mystic, CT in October.
Until the IMSI Board selects laboratories based on the above referenced evaluation, the IMSI will utilize the Siratech Inc. laboratory located in Kyle, Texas. More detailed and expensive tests covering a broader spectrum of sugars may be required in some circumstances after initial tests. The IMSI members should contact Dave Chapeskie for further information, if they have syrup samples they which to submit for adulteration testing under the IMSI sponsored program. Dave can also provide them with laboratory contact information for Canadian and US test facilities, if IMSI members wish to finance and submit syrup samples on their own directly to a lab for testing.
California Proposition 65-Maple Issue:
Yves Bois of Centre Acer and Damien Chaput of MAPAQ did not attend the California Proposition 65-Maple Issue component of the IMSI Board meeting. President Richard Norman advised those attending the meeting that all discussion and correspondence regarding California Proposition 65 is strictly confidential and must be treated as such. John Kingston of Butternut Mountain Farm representing the Joint Defense Group for the issue, updated the Board regarding status of the issue and answered questions with assistance from Dave Chapeskie and Richard Norman. Any questions regarding this issue should be addressed to Dave Chapeskie.
Standardized Maple Grades and Nomenclature:
Dave Chapeskie reported on status of the Standardized Grades and Nomenclature initiative. In general while support for the changes remains strong, progress in incorporating the changes into maple regulations has been relatively slow since the formal request was submitted to government agencies in September of 2011. A Motion in the Canadian Senate to support the IMSI’s Standardized Grades and Nomenclature Proposal was passed unanimously and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working through the process, which should lead to the amendment of Canadian Maple Regulations incorporating the proposed changes. The USDA has completed a draft of the new regulations, which has been reviewed by representatives of the IMSI and is similarly engaged in their process. New York State has begun drafting the Regulatory amendments, Ohio State is awaiting the USDA Regulations and Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire have been involved in dealing with initial process requirements but remain committed to the grade and nomenclature amendments.
While the IMSI’s goal for implementation of the new standard is the 2013 maple production, implementation cannot occur until regulatory approvals are finalized and new or modified colour classification equipment is commercially available. Based on progress leading to regulatory amendments to date, it is expected that 2013 implementation of the new grade standard will not be achievable, with 2014 target being more realistic at this stage. In addition, once regulatory approvals are obtained, it is anticipated that governments will allow for a reasonable transition period between existing grading systems and the new international standard to permit producers and packers to exhaust significant label inventories and to ease any operational adjustments required due to the change.
It was mentioned that market trial exposures being conducted utilizing the new grading system and nomenclature are winding down and findings will be reported on at the NAMSC- IMSI Annual Meeting in Mystic, Connecticut in October.
Maple Nutritional and Health Benefits Resources:
Dave Chapeskie reported on the resources, which are now available from the Executive office of the IMSI. These include a bilingual rackcard, French and English posters and an information CD. The CD contains a camera-ready copy of the rackcard and poster, a copy of most nutritional and health benefits scientific papers and other related information. Dave re-iterated that the IMSI’s purpose in developing and providing these materials is for awareness and education purposes. He indicated that it is permissible for IMSI members, including their individual maple producer members to utilize the camera-ready files to duplicate the materials as some IMSI members have already done. IMSI members may add their own business identifiers to the poster and rackcard so long as the information content and inclusion of the IMSI logo on the resources is not changed. The IMSI also has a limited number of printed rackcards and posters for sale and anyone interested should contact Dave Chapeskie for further information.
Now that development of the information resources has been completed, the IMSI will focus on ensuring that the information is accessible to the IMSI members and others. It is noted that the complete IMSI nutritional and health benefits information developed by the IMSI including the rackcard, poster, IMSI position statement as well as access to scientific documents will be posted on the renewed IMSI website when it goes live which is expected before the end of August.
Exotic Insect Pests Project Update:
Frank Chaikowski the IMSI alternate representative of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association reported on the Exotic Insect Pests review, which is being lead by Ray Bonenberg from Ontario. Some general fact-finding has occurred and discussion with several specialists regarding invasive species has been initiated. In late May, Ray Bonenberg toured the 12 million dollar invasive species center in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario and has met with the Executive Director and key staff regarding the concern of the maple industry regarding exotic insect pests and the IMSI’s intent to develop a position paper targeted to government officials. Interest from the staff was high and there appears to be a desire to partner on prevention, potential detection and education.
Ontario has also just released the Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan, 2012, a 58 page document that provides direction on all Invasive Species in the Province (ontario.ca/invasivespecies). Most jurisdictions have some sort of strategy in place and the intent of the IMSI is not to duplicate those strategies, but to develop our position not only if and/or when an outbreak occurs, but in advance of that as well.
While the focus of this work is currently on damaging exotic insect pests especially Asian longhorned beetle, it has been suggested by some that the scope of the initiative be extended to include other invasives such as plant species. In addition to support provided by the IMSI’s Executive Director, Mark Harran has agreed to assist this work effort. We are seeking one or two additional IMSI Directors to assist and those able to help out should contact Ray Bonenberg at email@example.com or Dave Chapeskie.
Eric Prud’Homme of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Henry Marckres (written report only) of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets reported for their respective government agencies. Both Eric and Henry provided further detail regarding the regulatory process dealing with the IMSI Standardized grades submission. Eric mentioned that Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has entered into a process, which will change and streamline aspects of regulatory affairs within the CFIA and Henry mentioned that his regulatory department was up to full staff complement and was now able to re-engage in retail inspections of maple syrup and other food products at the retail level.
Organic Certification Committee Update:
Eric Prud’Homme and Dave Chapeskie reported for the IMSI’s Organic Certification Committee. The IMSI Board was informed that further work had been completed on assembling information on the different organic certification standards particularly at the state level and an updated draft of the document comparing federal and state level standards was made available at the meeting. The work of assembling the different standard is continuing. It is anticipated that the IMSI Organic Certification Committee will convene a meeting to discuss work completed to-date in advance of the IMSI’s October Board meeting. No other specific follow-up or role for the IMSI will be decided until consolidation and synthesis of the different standards is finalized.
IMSI Sponsored Awards (2012):
Dave Chapeskie mentioned that the IMSI continues to sponsor two awards annually, the Golden Maple Leaf Award, which recognizes innovation in the North American and International Maple Syrup Industry, and the Lynn Reynolds Memorial Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding service and accomplishments of an individual for the North American/International Maple Syrup Industry. It was agreed that the 2011 criteria for the two awards would apply without amendment in 2012. The IMSI members are strongly encouraged to submit nominations for the two awards to the IMSI’s Executive Director no later than August 31st, 2012. Specifications for the two awards are appended to this summary.
IMSI Sponsored Maple Grading School:
Kathy Hopkins reported on the IMSI sponsored maple grading school. Participants in the schools continue to greatly value the educational experience offered.
IMSI members may learn about the Grading School and its offerings by accessing the University of Maine – Cooperative Extension website with the link provided below.
The 2012 Maple Syrup Grading School will be held October 26 – 27, 2012 at the Windham County Extension Office, CT held in conjunction with the NAMSC/IMSI Annual Meetings. If you need additional information or have any questions, please contact Kathy Hopkins at (207) 474-9622 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for Registration is October 12th, 2012.
Further details regarding the IMSI sponsored grading school can be found on the website: http://extension.umaine.edu/maple-grading-school/
2012 IMSI Nominations Committee:
IMSI President Richard Norman advised the Board of Directors that a Committee chaired by Past President Gary Gaudette and with Dave Chapeskie and Steve Selby serving as members had been struck to seek nominations for the 2013 IMSI Board of Directors. It was mentioned that the IMSI will be seeking a new Vice President for 2013 and that Steve Selby has agreed to let his name stand for the position of IMSI Treasurer again for 2013.
International Maple Syrup Day:
Dave Chapeskie and North American Maple Syrup Council Executive Director Mike Girard have proposed that both the IMSI and NAMSC discuss the merits of establishing an International Maple Syrup Day, which would celebrate maple around the world at their Director and Annual Meetings in Connecticut in October.
2013 IMSI/NAMSC Annual Meetings:
The 2013 Annual NAMSC-IMSI Meetings will be held from October 21-24th at Delta, Beauséjour, Moncton, N.B. For further information, contact Yvon Poitras at email@example.com
Dave Chapeskie, R. P. F.,
Executive Director, International Maple Syrup Institute
August 21st, 2012