Secretary's Report to the State Board
Garden State Dairy Alliance -- Secretary Kuperus announced the Garden State Dairy Alliance Thursday, January 20 before the Sussex County Cooperative Milk Producers Association and Garden State Family Farms at a meeting in Sussex County. The Alliance is a bundling of services to help sustain a viable dairy industry in New Jersey. The Department, Agricultural Experiment Station and Rutgers Cooperative Extension are partnering to tackle issues such as animal health, milk quality, marketing and dairy industry development, biosecurity and nutrient management. A webpage was launched www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/ah/prog/gsda.html that describes all the services and assistance available to dairy farmers.
Asian Longhorned Beetle -- A total of 825 trees have been removed from the Middlesex/Union infestation site; including 448 infested host trees and 377 high-risk exposed host trees. Crews continue to work in the core area of the infestation, western Carteret and the Avenel section of Woodbridge Township. Field surveys of the infestation area continued; 59,092 trees have been inspected. Sixteen program personnel from USDA APHIS PPQ, NJDA and New Jersey Forest Service are performing survey and regulatory activities. The quarantined area for the Middlesex/Union infestation was expanded from 10.5 square miles to 12.1 square miles. The quarantine was amended due to the finding of an infested tree, a red maple, close to the western edge of the quarantine zone. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Solid Waste Management, granted a special permit to the Covanta Union Resource Recovery Center in Rahway to burn infested wood chips from the Middlesex/Union infestation area. To date, 38 truckloads (approximately 20 cu. yards each) of chips have been disposed of and incinerated at the facility.
Economic Development Strategies -- In 2004, the Economic Development Work Team consisting of staff members from each of the Department’s five divisions, Rutgers Food Policy Institute, the Food Innovation Center and the Cooperative Extension, identified 100 strategies that would have a positive impact the economic return to New Jersey growers. The strategies, both big and small, consisted of new programs, ideas, and projects. Progress of each idea or program was tracked throughout the year. Out of the 100 strategies, 52 percent were successfully completed, 42 percent made progress and 6 percent had not been initiated.
Agri-tourism Study -- To determine the impact of the agri-tourism industry on the state’s economy, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has authorized Rutgers University’s Food Policy Institute to conduct a comprehensive one-year study on agri-tourism in the Garden State, which is set to commence within the next few weeks. Last year, members were named to the New Jersey Agri-Tourism Industry Advisory Council, whose charge is to develop and expand the agri-tourism industry in the state. However, the current scope of the industry in the state is unknown since there has never been any formal accounting as to the extent of the industry. The study is being paid for with a $58,000 grant provided by the Department to the Food Policy Institute. The five objectives of the survey are: identify and locate New Jersey farm operations that offer some form of agri-tourism activity; examine farmers’ and farm leaders’ perceptions of the opportunities presented by agri-tourism, as well as the challenges; document the type and scale of agri-tourism activities offered on New Jersey farms; Evaluate the characteristics of farms engaging in agri-tourism, including the economic and non-economic benefits of agri-tourism; and, conduct a preliminary review of ordinances in a cross-section of municipalities to assess their compatibility with agri-tourism industry development.
Jersey Fresh Matched Funds Program -- Agriculture organizations in the state have until February 18 to apply for the 2005 Jersey Fresh Matched Funds program. The program is funded with $75,000 for the promotion and marketing of agricultural products. The program allows New Jersey agricultural organizations the opportunity to utilize equity and consumer recognition that has been established through the Jersey Fresh logo in ways that cater to their individual commodity advertising programs. For information, call Lynn Coffin at 856-453-3870.
Agricultural Management Practices for Aquaculture Adopted -- The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) last month adopted accepted agricultural management practices for aquaculture, an important step in efforts to develop New Jersey’s growing aquaculture industry. The practices are outlined in “Recommended Management Practices for Aquatic Farms,” available on the web at:
http://www.jerseyseafood.nj.gov/aquacultureamp.pdf. Agricultural management practices addressed include those dealing with permits, construction, transportation, water resource management, native and non-native species, biosecurity, facility construction and health management.
Animal Emergency Working Group (AEWG) -- The AEWG is holding its annual symposium in Atlantic City to update those involved in animal safety in the state on animal emergency response readiness. The AEWG is charged with helping animals affected by emergencies, such as floods, forest fires or terrorist attacks. The AEWG develops and coordinates plans to protect animals during emergency situations. The group operates under the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health and the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management. In an effort to improve biosecurity, the AEWG is working with counties, animal control officers and emergency personnel to improve animal emergency response and readiness.
SADC Increases Grants to Farmers for Soil and Water Conservation Projects -- The State Agriculture Development Committee will pay up to 75 percent of the costs for eligible soil and water conservation projects on farms in permanent or eight-year preservation programs – a substantial increase intended to encourage more landowners to undertake these projects. Soil and water conservation projects include those designed to control and prevent soil erosion and sediment damages; control pollution on farmland; impound, store and manage water for agricultural purposes, or improve management of land and soils to achieve maximum agricultural productivity. The SADC in December adopted rule amendments to enable it to provide up to 75 percent cost-sharing grants and also increase maximum grant eligibility to up to $75,000 per landowner. Prior to that, the SADC had provided cost-sharing grants of up to 50 percent, with a maximum grant eligibility of $50,000 per landowner.
Consolidation Of Cumberland and Salem District Offices -- Effective January 2005, the Cumberland and Salem Soil Conservation Districts consolidated their district operations with the assistance of State Committee staff and will operate from the Deerfield office location. The State Committee approved the proposed action in accordance with the Soil Conservation Act of 1937 and appointed five supervisors to the newly formed Cumberland-Salem Conservation District. The districts have operated independently from 1967 to 2004. However, the two boards of supervisors recently determined that the districts should consolidate for greater efficiency.
FFA Gets a Plug – The cover of the Winter 2005 edition of Rutgers Magazine, a publication distributed to all Rutgers University alumni, features Jennifer Wilson sporting her “FFA at 75” tee-shirt.