Michigan Senate bill would exempt maple syrup from some road restrictions

Maple syrup producers would be able to transport sap from the field to the farm without worry of exceeding Michigan’s seasonal weight restrictions under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday, National Agriculture Day.

“Maple syrup production is an important part of Michigan’s agriculture industry, contributing $2.5 million to our state’s economy annually,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City.

“While maple sap is the first crop to be harvested each year, from February through April, it is not included on the list of agriculture products that are exempt from seasonal weight restrictions. Given the size and importance of maple syrup production in Michigan, and the fact that demand often exceeds supply, it only makes sense that we remove this barrier so our farmers can more easily do their jobs.”

Under law, vehicles used in the transportation of agricultural commodities are provided an exemption from seasonal weight limits on Michigan roads during the months of March, April and May, when the state’s historical pattern of freezing and thawing occurs.

Senate Bill 314 would add maple sap, maple syrup, and equipment used to produce and transport maple syrup to the list of exempt commodities.

Michigan ranks sixth in the U.S. for maple syrup production. There are about 500 commercial maple syrup producers and some 2,000 hobbyists throughout the state. Michigan produces 90,000 gallons of pure maple syrup per year on average.

SB 314 now goes to the state House for consideration.

Maple Syrup Production photo by M. Rehemtulla