Quebec's maple syrup cartel to loosen quotas on production
The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers plans to loosen its quotas on maple syrup production in order to maintain its status as the world's top maple syrup producer.
The move comes after a sharp rise in production of maple syrup in the United States, which is Quebec’s biggest export market.
American maple syrup production is growing by 10 per cent every year, and the province estimates that at that rate the U.S. will overtake Quebec as the world leader within 10 years.
It would be a serious blow to an industry that is synonymous with Quebec agriculture, not to mention a winter tradition that has been part of Quebec's identity for so long.
A report commissioned by the government says the Federation that controls maple syrup has been too rigid, and too strict with its production of the maple syrup, all with a goal to keep the price high and maintain the impression that Quebec syrup is the most desirable.
Florent Gagné, who wrote the report, says the Federation has to learn to cope with international competition.
"Let's open the windows to let the oxygen come into the system in Quebec. It's too tight at the present time. There are many constraints and everything, so we've got to get rid of that in order to compete on the international market," said Gagné.
Many producers have complained about the Federation, which regulates the industry so tightly it is the only authorized buyer of maple syrup in the province.
Another recommendation is to remove the concept of exclusivity of Quebec syrup, allow prices to follow world market fluctuations according to demand and make quality a top priority, an admission that just because it's Quebec-made doesn't mean it's the best.
The report says the law needs to be changed to give the agriculture minister the power to change the quotas.