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Decision Tree for Maple Syrup and Sap Producers for Wisconsin Food Safety Regulations
Wisconsin is the fourth largest producer of maple syrup in the country. Producers of maple syrup products in the state range from backyard hobbyists to large commercial operations with tens of thousands of taps. Whether you only produce a couple of pints for your own table or you make syrup in barrel quantities to sell on the commodity market, food safety is paramount. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is responsible for insuring 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).
We have developed an online tool to help producers of all size operations determine what food safety licenses and registrations are appropriate for their operation. To use the tool answer the questions that best describe your operation of interest. You are then directed to the appropriate DACTP website for more information on your potential next steps. Not all maple syrup producers need a license to make maple syrup but you should still consider taking a safe food handling class to insure that the maple syrup and foods you produce are made in the safest possible manner.
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.
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Maple sap gathering is considered an agricultural activity by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR). Lands on which gathering takes place may qualify for an assessment as agriculture use-value for property tax purposes.
As a landowner who taps maple trees for sap collection or rents land for sap gathering, it is important to understand the process for determining if your forest qualifies for use-value classification, which can potentially lower your property taxes. The first step in this process is for an assessor to conduct an on-site inspection of your operation the year before the next January assessment. Ideally, such inspection should take place during the maple 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 the 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.
The video shown here was made for assessors, but it has beneficial information about the assessment process for a landowner. It provides more specific information discussed in this article.
Here is an additional resource about use-value assessment for maple sap producers.
- Wisconsin Department of Revenue 2023 Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual Chapter 14: https://www.revenue.wi.gov/Documents/wpam23.pdf