Coombs Family Farms Announces 2008 Maple Crop Report and Industry Analysis

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Maple Supply Down, World Demand Up; More Support for Small Family Farms Needed. Seventh Generation Maple Farm Discusses 2008 Crop and Future.

Last year's shortfall was covered by syrup carried over from previous year's production, but this year we're not as lucky

Coombs Family Farms, a seventh generation maple producer and champion of small family farming, today announced its crop report and industry analysis for 2008. Brevity of season, a nearly depleted carry over from previous years, an increase in world maple demand, and a decrease in the number of family farms still in business, all have contributed to the trickle down of the world's maple supply.

"This year's sugaring season started late and ended on time giving us a shortened window of opportunity to produce," said Arnold Coombs, Seventh Generation Maple Farmer, Chairman of the Vermont Maple Industry Council, and General Manager of Coombs Family Farms. "It appears that due to poor 2007 and 2008 crops around the world, supply today is 33% short of what the market needs."

"Like all farmers, we depend on a variety of factors including Mother Nature," continued Coombs. "But there are other issues at play. As an industry, we need to employ best practices for sustainable forestry and we need to support each other. Small family farms are a dying breed. We not only need more maple, but also we need more family farms."

Coombs Family Farms has worked their own land and tapped trees since 1840, and proudly support other small family maple farmers who share its commitment to quality, environmental stewardship and sustainable forestry. Not only does Coombs Family Farms buy maple syrup from hundreds of small family farmers, but also together with its sister company, Bascom Family Farms, it provides badly needed cash flow via pre-season credit for equipment, and conducts free training and educational seminars about topics such as maple forest management, responsible tree tapping, energy-saving reverse osmosis evaporators, organic certification, decreasing carbon footprint, and producing value-added maple products.

The world market for pure maple--conventional and organic in all grades and formats--is estimated at 110,000,000 to 120,000,000 lbs. Maple is used as an all-natural sweetener and flavor enhancer in breakfast and baked goods, but also in deli meats, beverages, sauces and savory dishes. Leading international corporations such as Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's, Quaker, and Boar's Head, just to name a few, use maple as an ingredient in their products.

Maple production, or "sugaring" occurs as early as the end of February and continues as late as early April. Maple syrup is a farmed product made simply from boiling down sap with no additives or preservatives, it's ultimately dependent on weather, forestry practices, and seasonal conditions each year. It also depends on how many farms are still producing maple.

America's farmers, especially on small family farms, have dwindled in number and are under extreme economic pressure. According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, the U.S. lost nearly 9,000 family farms, or more than one farm per hour between 2005 and 2006. Each day, 3,000 acres of farmland are lost to development.

"Last year's shortfall was covered by syrup carried over from previous year's production, but this year we're not as lucky," said Coombs. "Ironically, it's a great time to be a maple farmer because not only are prices high but also world demand is higher since the early 1900s."

Coombs Family Farms products include certified organic maple syrup, 100% pure maple syrups in various grades and sizes, pure maple candies, pure maple sugar, and pancake mixes. Coombs Family Farms never uses pesticides or artificial ingredients and employs sustainable forestry and sugaring practices and was one of the early adopters and proponents of health spouts. All Coombs Family Farms maple syrups are available in Grade A light amber, Grade A medium amber, Grade A dark amber, Grade B, and Commercial Grade maple syrup for restaurants and food companies.

About Coombs Family Farms
Pure maple has been a way of life at Coombs Family Farms for seven generations. Coombs Family Farms has produced 100% pure maple since 1840. Since 1988, Coombs Family Farms has produced certified organic maple syrup. A champion of small family farming, Coombs Family Farms also sources 100% pure organic certified maple from other small, independent farmers who share the Coombs commitment to quality, environmental stewardship, and sustainable forestry management. To learn more about Coombs Family Farms maple, please visit http://www.coombsfamilyfarms.com.

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Elizabeth Horton
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