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Climate change is putting the maple syrup industry at risk

climate change business
Posted at 9:38 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 13:11:46-04

Tim Gaudreau owns a small farm in Southern New Hampshire, the landscape here is his livelihood. But a changing climate means the maple syrup business he relies on to help keep the farm going, is in jeopardy of disappearing in the not-so-distant future.

Every spring, the maple trees around his property provide hundreds of gallons of sap, which Gaudreau then turns into pure, maple syrup. But a changing climate is changing all of that.

"The long-term trends are showing trends are shifting," Gaudreau said recently.

Warmer winters have meant these trees are now producing less sap than they once did. It also means the sugar content of the sap farmers' harvest is lower.

It has significant economic impacts. I'm witnessing it from my little farm in terms of I’m experiencing more losses

In the United States, the maple syrup industry generates $686 million each year, but researchers have found maple trees are already migrating north to Canada in search of cooler temperatures putting the entire industry in jeopardy. By the end of this century, the economic impacts of climate change could be astronomical, businesses in the US could be losing more than $2 trillion each year.

"We’re not going to have that kind of industry here in the future, because it will be too warm for sugar maples to survive," Gaudreau said.

Sectors of the economy which are expected to be hit hardest by climate change include:

  • Insurance industry
  • Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Beverage industry
  • Commercial Fishing
  • Skiing
  • Wineries

Gaudreau has a front-row seat to all of it. It’s not just the maple syrup business that isn’t as sweet as it once was, this farmer has also lost up to 75 percent of the Christmas trees he planted last year. From droughts to unpredictable flash flooding, severe swings in the weather are becoming too much for these trees to handle.

"What we’re seeing is the impacts of climate change are manifesting before our eyes," he said.

The beauty across New England in the fall may be profound, but for farmers across this industry, a changing of the seasons isn’t the only change they’re worried about.