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January 2002


Governor James E. McGreevey administered the oath of office to me on January 28. The Governor's mandate to me is preserve our farms; fight for our farmers; keep our agriculture industry profitable, strong and innovative; and make sure the industry is poised for a bright future. I have already begun making the rounds, having 'kitchen table' talks with you, and I look forward to involving more of our industry, commodity groups and other interest groups in meeting the Governor's mandate.


During February I met with State Treasurer John McCormac to discuss NJDA's budget and the status of various programs in light of current and projected budget shortfalls. During the meeting I continued to stress the importance of funding to meet the Governor's charge to me .

I also met with NJDEP Commissioner-designate Brad Campbell to begin a dialogue with him concerning agricultural/environmental programs, including a variety of issues such as farmland preservation, water allocation, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) proposal and watershed management planning.

In addition, I met with Bob Smith, chairman, and Doug Fisher, vice-chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and had several conversations with other interest groups.


Preparatory activities have begun for the 2002 plum pox virus survey. Approximately 3,400 acres of the state's 8,600 acres of commercial stone fruit remain to be surveyed for the plum pox virus in order to declare New Jersey free of the disease. Plant Industry personnel have compiled a list of all New Jersey growers whose acreage has been sampled or who have submitted requested farm maps and acreage information. The division is making every effort to ensure that all New Jersey growers are included in the survey.


Staff are preparing final project rankings for 240 of the 365 applications received for FY02 funding under the Conservation Cost-Share Program (CCSP). Final funding commitments will be made in April, following field surveys, development of planning and cost estimates and discussion of conservation plan alternatives with affected farmers. Contracts for the projects will be finalized in June.

At this time, 229 projects involving soil erosion, sediment control, nutrient management, livestock management and agrichemical handling facilities are under way. These projects represent nearly $4.3 million in improvements funded since FY99, all of which are being carried out in accordance with the implementation schedule in each farm's conservation plan. The CCSP is integrated with USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help enhance water quality from agricultural operations.


The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) set a new record under the Farmland Preservation Program for FY01 with the permanent preservation of 126 farms covering 14,006 acres. The previous record of 82 farms covering 11,648 acres was set in FY00.

The SADC has signed memoranda of understanding that give it the authority to administer leases on agricultural lands for two properties owned by DEP B Beemerville in Montague and Wantage Townships, Sussex County, and Six Mile Run in Franklin Township, Somerset County. These agreements are in direct response to concerns raised by the agricultural community that state-owned farmlands should be managed by an agency with agricultural expertise.


Gypsy moth egg mass surveys were completed in74 municipalities and one county park system this month to identify areas for treatment this spring with the non-chemical insecticide, Bacillus thuringiensis or B.t. Based on survey results, 27,140 acres in 34 municipalities and one county park are being proposed for treatment in the spring 2002 voluntary cooperative aerial spray program. This represents a substantial increase over the 13,253 acres proposed last year of which just over 8,500 acres were actually treated. The 2002 recommended areas are in Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Hunterdon, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Sussex and Warren Counties with more than 80 percent of the proposed acreage located in the northern counties of the state.

As required by our contract with USDA Forest Service, a public meeting was held on January 7 in Trenton to outline this department's proposed treatment activities and gather public comment concerning them. The main concerns expressed by the public at the meeting involved resident notification; security measures planned by NJDA to prevent tampering with the spray material; and steps to be taken to ensure that residents and police authorities are notified in advance of actual spraying to allay concerns about the low flying aircraft.


In cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, NJDA has conducted surveys of aquaculture leasing policies and aquacultured products in states along the Atlantic Coast. Preliminary review of the data suggest that New Jersey's proposed policies will be much more rigorous and the permitting fee/paperwork burden will be much greater than in other states, putting New Jersey's aquafarmers at a potential disadvantage in the marketplace.

This is particularly troublesome since New Jersey clam growers, the largest segment of the industry, already face stiff competition from overseas and from other states that have much more progressive regulatory programs supported by extensive seafood marketing programs. Of special concern are the new regulations regarding leasing. Since there have been marked improvements in state water quality and more acres are being opened to shellfishing, it is critical that more business-friendly policies be put in place to support the revitalization of the industry.


In cooperation with Food Export USA B Northeast, NJDA helped 15 New Jersey food and agricultural companies meet in private sessions with pre-qualified buyers representing 30 foreign countries. The meetings took place in Philadelphia and New York City with a total of 73 American food and agricultural companies from the Northeast and Mid-West participating. Both the foreign buyers and the participating food and agricultural companies reported that the meetings were extremely worthwhile.


Because of its excellent track record in distributing federally-donated commodities, last year NJDA was one of 13 food distribution agencies in the nation selected to participate in the USDA's National Commodity Re-engineering Pilot Project, an effort aimed at improving the national commodity distribution program. Through the pilot, NJDA was asked to evaluate and implement a series of chicken processing and distribution concepts for federally-donated foods used in the National School Lunch Program. The evaluations were to cover such issues as standard product yields, use of commercial labels, and internet-based distribution/school ordering systems. Reports of the first six months of the project are already showing positive results. For example, oven-ready chicken products produced from USDA commodities are being delivered to over 35 school districts that make up the South Jersey co-operative, saving these districts an estimated 23% on chicken products purchased this year compared to the 2000/2001 school year.


For 2002, 22 Standardbred stallions have been registered to stand service in New Jersey, one more than last season. This year, world champion stallion Matts Scooter will return to New Jersey from Ontario to stand at Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge. Also standing at Perretti Farms is first-year stallion Dream Vacation, the fastest son of world champion trotter Pine Chip. Other stallions new to New Jersey this year are Banker Hall and Party Party who will both stand at Walnridge Farm in Cream Ridge.

The Sire Stakes Board of Trustees recently approved a plan to allow foals sired by New Jersey stallions through interstate semen transportation to be eligible to participate in the New Jersey Sire Stakes Program. The Directors of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey also voted to support the plan as has the State Board of Agriculture . The plan requires a change in legislation which, if passed in its proposed form, would be retroactive to January 1, 2002.


John Coombs, national winner of the specialty crop production proficiency award, and Michael Brooks, national finalist for the vegetable production proficiency award, will be recognized on February 6 at the New Jersey State Board of Education meeting. The two students were recognized this fall at the National FFA Convention for excellence in Supervised Agricultural Experience and FFA programs that connect to their instructional program of agricultural education. These awards encourage FFA members to develop specialized skills that will apply toward a future career in agriculture. Coombs and Brooks will travel to Costa Rica this June to learn about global agriculture in a program funded by the National FFA Organization.


Jane Gilbert, immediate past chairman of the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board and current president of the New Jersey Horse Council, was honored as the 2002 Horseperson of the Year at the annual Equine Breeders award dinner this week. Born in Pennsylvania, Gilbert has been a New Jerseyan since 1959. In addition to her credentials as a riding instructor, she is secretary of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association; a member of the Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association, the New Jersey Bred Hunter Association, the New Jersey Professional Horseman's Association; and a licensed judge in five disciplines.

This year's Thoroughbred of the Year award went to SEA IF TRANQUILITY, a six-year-old repeat winner of this award owned by Richard Paulus of Lecanto, Florida. This summer the horse won the Jersey Breeders Handicap as well as the Bernie Dowd Handicap at Monmouth bringing his career earnings to more than $460,000.

The Standardbred of the Year award went to BETTOR'S DELIGHT, a three-year-old son of CAM'S CARD SHARK. Owned by John Grant of Hornby, Ontario, BETTOR'S DELIGHT was a nine-time winner this year with seasonal earnings of nearly $1,777,000. He was driven this season by Mike LaChance and trained by Scott McEneny.


The most recent report (November 2001) for milk sales in the federal market order covering New Jersey showed that the state's 140 dairy producers sold nearly 17 million pounds of milk during the reporting period. In November 2001, the average daily production per farm was 4,032 pounds compared with 3,767 in the same period last year.