Outstanding Young Farmer -- Jeff Vander Groef, a Sussex County dairy farmer, has won the National Outstanding Young Farmer competition, sponsored by the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees). Vander Groef, the 2005 New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer, received the honor, along with three other farmers from Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan on February 12 at the National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Congress in Modesto, California. Three other New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmers have gained the National recognition: in 2001, Robert C. Von Thun Jr., a Middlesex County vegetable farmer; in 1989, James Giamarese, a Middlesex County vegetable farmer; in 1985, Abbott W. Lee, a Burlington County cranberry farmer.
Asian Longhorned Beetle -- Members of the ALB Cooperative Eradication Program Team met with City of Rahway officials on Wednesday, February 16, to discuss the need to remove 1,400 more trees in the city due to the recent expansion of the quarantine zone. The expansion was precipitated by the finding on November 10, 2004 of an infested tree in Rahway near the western edge of the existing quarantine zone. That tree included 13 egg sites and three exit holes. USDA protocol for eradication calls for the quarantine to be expanded by one-quarter mile if the infested tree displays exit holes, indicating adult beetles have emerged from the tree and may have infested nearby host trees. It was determined that 1,400 high-risk host trees within the new one-quarter mile area would have to come down to ensure the beetle did not spread further. City officials at the meeting, which also included USDA, NJDA and NJ Forest Service personnel, indicated they would continue cooperating with the eradication effort in hopes of keeping the invasive pest from spreading. As of February 16, 1,279 trees have been removed from the Middlesex/Union ALB infestation site. Of those, 462 were infested host trees and 817 were high-risk exposed host trees. Crews continue to work this week in the residential areas of Carteret. Members of the New Jersey ALB Cooperative Eradication Program were the recipients of the 2005 New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Employee Recognition Teamwork/Partnership Achievement Award, for their work to control and prevent the spread of the ALB.
Produce Bonding -- Legislation has been introduced (A-3835) by Assemblyman Doug Fisher to amend the current law on the surety required to be licensed to purchase agricultural products on credit. The bill would require surety to be posted to cover 100-percent of purchases up to a maximum of $150,000 annually. The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a surety fund into which credit purchasers would pay to cover any defaults on payments to producers. Both provisions would be in effect for at least the first several years of the fund until sufficient monies were built up to cover any large defaults. The plan, which was crafted at a meeting of NJDA officials, state legislators, brokers and producers in Salem County on February 3, is encountering support from farm groups such as the Cumberland County Board of Agriculture. The changes to the bonding law were precipitated by produce broker complaints that they could not secure the necessary surety under the bonding amendments signed into law in May 2004.
Jersey Produce Tour -- In March, Secretary Kuperus will visit farmers as they prepare for spring planting. In addition, a meeting is being planned with the Peach Marketing Task Force for an update on the implementation of recommendations made last year to revitalize the peach industry in New Jersey, especially regarding the introduction of a premium grade of peaches and third-party audits. The Secretary also is planning to meet with retailers to promote the Jersey Fresh marketing program.
Supplemental Appropriations -- Two pieces of legislation were passed by the State Senate that would appropriate $1 million in federal funds for the Garden State Ethanol Project and $1.3 million in federal funds for the control and eradication of the Asian longhorned beetle.
Value-added Grant Award -- New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus and Andrew M.G. Law, State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program, awarded a $47,100 USDA Value-Added Producer Grant to a group of seven aquaculture producers in the state for the marketing of clams under the Jersey Seafood brand name at an event held in Atlantic City January 26. The seven entrepreneurs of the newly formed New Jersey Seafood Marketing Group will use the grant to begin their efforts to launch and market a Jersey Seafood brand of clams. New Jersey Department of Agriculture staff, as well as professionals from Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Food Innovation Center, will assist the group in its marketing efforts. The group will be the first in the state using newly developed Jersey Seafood standards and brand logo for an aquacultured product. The New Jersey Seafood Marketing group, led by George Mathis – a third generation bayman who operates Mathis Clam Farm in Egg Harbor Township – will sell high quality, fresh, locally-raised hard clams in mesh bags at local retail establishments and farm markets.
Soybean Rust -- Division staff submitted a Section 18 emergency exemption request to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Pesticide Control Program for fungicides to control soybean rust in anticipation of the introduction of this new, foreign disease into New Jersey this upcoming growing season. NJDEP signed off on the application, and forwarded it on to the federal EPA for final approval of the exemption request. This application was for the products: propiconazole (Tilt®), propimax (Bumper®), tebuconazole (Folicur®), myclobutanil (Laredo EC®, Laredo EW®), trifloxystrobin & propiconazole (Stratego®), azoxystrobin & propiconazole (Quilt®). The fungicides azoxystrobin (Quadris®), chlorothalonil (Bravo Weather Stik®, Echo 720®, Echo 90DF®) and pyraclostrobin (Headline®) are currently labeled for soybean rust, but are expected to be in short supply. It is critical that soybean growers nationally and in NJ have sufficient, effective fungicides available to combat this new, foreign disease. The Division is working closely with Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension to develop control recommendations appropriate for New Jersey growers.
Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Awards -- On February 10, Secretary Kuperus joined Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin to announce six Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) demonstration projects across the state. They are: Washington Township, Mercer County; Fanwood Borough, Union County; Berkeley Township, Ocean County; Montgomery Township, Somerset County; Hopewell Township, Cumberland County; and, Woolwich Township, Gloucester County. The TDR program is an innovative initiative to give local governments more control in guiding development into areas appropriate for growth, while steering it away from lands to be protected. The demonstration projects will educate communities on how TDR works for various development and redevelopment needs. Like the purchase of development rights under the farmland preservation program, TDR provides another important tool that can be used to protect agricultural and other resources using a landowner compensation mechanism. Under TDR, developers purchase development rights from landowners in preservation areas who then use them to build at higher densities in designated growth zones.
New Jersey FFA President Honored -- New Jersey FFA President Heather White was honored by the New Jersey Senate on February 14 with a resolution presented on the Senate Floor by Senator Joseph Palaia of Monmouth County and Acting Governor Codey.
Food Innovation Center Received Casino Redevelopment Grant -- Rutgers recently announced that a new building will be built in Bridgeton, Cumberland County to house the Food Innovation Research and Extension Center. Rutgers was awarded a $2 million grant from the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to build the facility in the heart of New Jersey’s agricultural and food processing industry.