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Maple syrup industry in Quebec should loosen rules, report says

A group of rogue maple syrup producers is taking their fight to the Court of Appeal of Quebec later this month, hoping to reverse last year’s Quebec Superior Court decision that the province has the right to control the out-of-province sale of maple syrup.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Quebec, the world's biggest producer of maple syrup, should scrap its production quota as part of a strategy to remain competitive, according to a 71-page report commissioned by the Canadian province.

While Quebec accounts for more than 100 million pounds of the 160 million pounds of maple syrup produced annually, the province's top position has been eroded by gains in New Brunswick, Ontario and the U.S., according to the report. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers needs to loosen its production requirements, among other recommendations, the report said.

"It is clear that the business model needs to be repositioned," according to the report written by Florent Gagne. "We have to make it more elastic, less all-encompassing and give it the flexibility to cope with the demands of a globalized industry."

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The federation should address "administrative hassles" for producers, ease restrictions on sales to third parties and abolish quotas for certain maple products, according to the report.

"The tremendous potential of U.S. producers deserves to be taken into serious consideration when the leaders of Quebec's maple industry make decisions to ensure its medium- and long- term prosperity."

The report was commissioned by Pierre Paradis, the province's agriculture minister. The "exhaustive" study has 21 recommendations, partly to address the loss of a 10 percent share of the global market in the past 10 years, the minister said in a statement.

The federation declined to comment on the report. It plans to hold a press conference on Feb. 16. Quebec has 13,500 maple- syrup producers, according to the document.

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