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FAQ | 2020 Classification

Is it true that grading will take longer this year?

Maple syrup grading may take a little longer due to the decrease in the number of quality control teams in relation to the volume to be graded. Some ACER Division Inspection employees are on sick leave due to the pandemic for various reasons: age, state of health, children at home.


Will I have to wait longer to have my maple syrup graded?

Yes, it may take a little longer for maple syrup to be graded. But please remember that as is the case every year, it is impossible to grade the entire harvest in only two months, i.e., in May and June when all 7,300 maple syrup producers have finished production and want their maple syrup graded so they can be paid quickly. The classification period indicated in the marketing agreement runs until September 30.


How much more time does it take an inspector to grade maple syrup, given the hygiene and sanitation measures that are now required?

Despite the new hygiene and sanitation measures, grading will proceed at the same rate, with ACER Division Inspection staff working more hours per day to meet the regular target of 650 barrels graded in the laboratory and 250 barrels graded at an authorized buyer.


How many teams of quality inspectors are currently working?

Currently, about ten teams of quality inspectors are available to grade maple syrup.


Will there be more maple syrup to grade this year?

We won’t know how much maple syrup will be produced until the end of the sugar season. We will know in early June 2020, when Groupe AGÉCO submits the results of the 2020 harvest survey.


I’ve heard that grading will not be completed until 2021! Is that true?

According to our most pessimistic scenario, we expect grading to be finished by October 2020.


Why doesn’t ACER Division Inspection hire more people to get the job done faster?

Quality inspectors and assistants receive annual training right before the start of the grading season. During this multi-day training held in late February, grading staff receive the latest information on work methods and technical details. ACER Division Inspection recruited enough teams for the 2020 season, but the pandemic has affected staffing levels. Now ACER Division Inspection must focus on grading.


Will I be able to request a classification review as in previous years?

Yes, you will be able to request a classification review if you are not satisfied. The rules will not change, even if your maple syrup is graded by an authorized buyer. For all VR5s and CTs (processing grade), a review is carried out automatically at PPAQ’s expense.


Why is grading slower if the roads are open to agricultural producers

Despite what producers might think and the rumours going around, grading for the 2020 season will not be much slower than it has been in recent years. ACER Division Inspection staff have been at work since March 16, 2020, and are authorized to travel between regions. They are putting in more hours per day to maintain the same grading rate as last year.


Could my buyer grade my maple syrup without going through ACER Division Inspection?

If there is a grading bottleneck, an authorized buyer could grade a producer’s maple syrup on their own to speed up the grading process. To do so, they would need the maple syrup producer’s signed authorization.


Why would you allow buyers to take samples and grade maple syrup themselves?

As an exception, we would temporarily allow authorized buyers to take samples and grade maple syrup themselves, after obtaining written authorization from the maple syrup producer. This special measure will be implemented only if there is a grading bottleneck, to speed up the grading process.


How will PPAQ know my classification result if my buyer does the grading

If you give an authorized buyer written authorization to grade your maple syrup, the buyer must submit classification data in accordance with the procedures established by ACER Division Inspection and approved by PPAQ.


Are there fewer staff available for grading?

Yes, this year there are a few less people grading maple syrup. Some are off work due to the pandemic for various reasons: age, health status, children at home. However, the ten or so teams in place are putting in more hours per day to maintain the regular grading rate.


To speed up grading, why not send all samples to the centralized laboratories for SpectrAcer analysis?

The three centralized labs are operating at maximum capacity, as are all available SpectrAcer instruments. To speed up grading, PPAQ will, if necessary for this year only, allow authorized buyers to take samples and grade maple syrup themselves after obtaining written authorization from maple syrup producers.


With the slowdown in grading, should I contact my bank if I need cash?

The grading rate will not be affected much by the pandemic. Please remember that ACER Division Inspection teams cannot grade the production of all 7,300 maple syrup producers in just two months. As is the case every year, in May and June maple syrup producers want their maple syrup graded so they can be paid quickly. It is important to remember that the classification period indicated in the marketing agreement runs until September 30. If you need cash quickly, you can contact your financial institution. In addition, PPAQ has worked with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to set up an un-graded advance for Advance Payment Program participants. You can obtain this advance before your syrup is graded. The program will start around mid-May 2020.


With the slowdown in grading, will there be other forms of payment to help me?

PPAQ has worked with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to set up an un-graded advance for Advance Payment Program participants. You can obtain this advance before your syrup is graded. The program will start around mid-May 2020.


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