League of Municipalities - Secretary Kuperus, joined by fellow Cabinet members from the Departments of Transportation, Environmental Protection and Community Affairs, addressed a standing-room-only crowd on the topic of smart growth at the annual League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City. The Secretary spoke about the Department's strategy to promote smart growth through farmland preservation and economic development, a topic he expanded on during a later conference session on "Investing in Our Farms and Our Communities."
Market Development - The Department of Agriculture exhibited at the annual New Jersey Education Association Teachers Convention at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City. This convention attracts more than 50,000 education professionals. Staff members distributed information relating to New Jersey agriculture, Jersey Fresh, and New Jersey's poultry industry. The New Jersey Poultry Promotions Council sponsors the booth.
The Division of Markets contacted farmers participating in pick-your-own operations to obtain updated information for the 2003 Where to Find Pick Your Own Fruits & Vegetables in New Jersey brochure. Those wishing to be listed should contact Jackie Feldman at 609-292-5567
New Jersey Sire Stakes - The New Jersey Sire Stakes completed its 2002 racing season on October 26 at Freehold Raceway as the remaining four finals for the Green Acres and the three Pari-mutuel finals were contested. While last year's Pari-mutuel Program offered 86 races with total purses of $4,245,988, this year's totals were 97 races for a total of $4,491,191, an increase of $245,203.
The Green Acres Program also saw an increase in purses, which reflects the final purse going from $25,000 to $35,000. Last year's Green Acres Program had 64 races for a total purse of $1,087,496. This year's program had 81 races for a total purse of $1,350,600, for an increase of $263,104.
Combined, the Pari-mutuel division and the Green Acres Program bring the total value of the Sire Stakes races to $5,841,791. This year's gains set a strong foundation for incoming executive director Greg Boehmer who begins December 2nd.
Fish and Seafood Promotion - The Department staffed a booth at the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. The four-day show draws visitors from around the world and is an excellent opportunity to showcase to foodservice buyers the high quality product available from the Garden State. Departments of Agriculture from several other states, including Maryland, Louisiana and Florida, also had booths at the show. Foodservice is a major market for fish and seafood products.
Approximately 70 percent of all seafood consumed in the United States is eaten away from home. More than 400 copies of the suppliers directory were distributed, as well as information on how to access the Department's website and the searchable version of the Directory.
Farmland Preservation Cost-Share Applications Approved - Five applications for irrigation practices valued at $112,994 were processed and will be recommended for approved by the State Soil Conservation Committee on November 22 for cost sharing at $48,150. The applications on permanently preserved farms, designated as Priority 1, and applications on farms with 8-year programs, designated as Priority 2 and 3, will be considered by the State Agricultural Development Committee in December 2002. Payments totaling $250,290 were processed for completed conservation practices previously approved and installed that have a total project value of $ 119,831.00.
Agricultural Education - Approximately 100 N.J. FFA members, teachers and guests from eight chapters attended the 75th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. There was record attendance, with more than 51,000 people attending. More than 40 students competed in 14 national career development events. Some of New Jersey's outstanding achievements in national career development events include: Laura Parsons of the Allentown FFA Chapter receiving a gold ranking in Agricultural Sales; Andrew Griscom of the Cumberland Regional FFA Chapter receiving a gold ranking in the Dairy Cattle Handlers Activity; Matt Hood and Rebecca Schnetzer of the Warren Hills FFA Chapter, both receiving gold rankings in Nursery/Landscape; members of the Floriculture team from the BCIT-Westampton FFA Chapter receiving silver ranking by placing 18th as a team; and members of the Agricultural Mechanics team from the Northern Burlington FFA Chapter receiving silver ranking by placing 26th as a team.
CAFO General Permit Language - Staff met with the NJDA Animal Waste Advisory Committee to review proposed final language in the DEP General Permit. The general permit is being made available to livestock operations classified as a concentrated animal feeding operation. Recommendations were discussed with DEP about changing certain technical requirements in the general permit so they conform to the USDA Field Office Technical Guide and related design standards. DEP also was advised about confidentiality issues with respect to farm conservation plans.
Asian longhorned beetle - Asian longhorned beetle surveys continued in Jersey City following detection of the beetle in October. Department survey crews, in cooperation with USDA, APHIS, Plant Protection and Quarantine staff examined the majority of host trees within a 1/2 mile radius of the initial site with assistance from tree climbers provided by the US Forest Service; a total of 101 trees within the core area have been found to be infested. A state/federal workplan plan for beetle eradication is being developed, along with a cooperative agreement for long-range program funding.
Honors - State Veterinarian Dr. Ernest Zirkle was presented with the National Assembly Award for outstanding contributions to animal health in the regulatory field in October during the opening general joint session of the U.S. Animal Health Association and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians.