U.S. Census of Agriculture Preliminary Release -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2012 Census of Agriculture released last week shows the average New Jersey farm is larger and more productive than it was in 2007. Preliminary data from the census show the average size of a New Jersey farm increased from 71 to 79 acres from 2007 to 2012. The market value of products sold on those farms went up from $95,564 to $111,030 per farm. In total, the market value of products sold on all New Jersey farms increased from $986.9 million to $1.01 billion. Between 2007 and 2012 there was a decrease in the number of the state’s smallest farms, those between one and nine acres. That number dropped 24 percent from 2,950 to 2,237. However, the number of farms between 50 and 179 acres increased 7 percent from 1,675 to 1,790 during that time period. The census also showed farmers in the U.S. are getting older. The average age of a New Jersey farmer went up from 57 in 2007 to 59 in 2012.
NJ State Agricultural Convention – The convention was held February 5 and 6 in Atlantic City, concurrent with the Vegetable Growers Association of NJ Convention and Trade Show. During the convention, speakers included Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblyman Bob Adrzejczak, the new Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo. Ray Gilmer of United Fresh gave a presentation on crisis management and listening sessions on GMO, Micro-Enterprise, and Locally Grown were held. A number of awards were presented including: Outstanding Young Farmer – Mitchell Jones of Warren County; Distinguished Service to NJ Agriculture – Dr. Wesley Kline of Rutgers and Steve Jany of Mercer County; Patrick Mullen Quality Grading Award – Jim and Helen Miller of Honey and Sweets Farm Market.
FFA Week – Governor Christie Proclaimed February 15-22 as FFA Week in New Jersey. Many local FFA chapters held activities during the week. On February 20, Lt. Governor Guadagno spoke at the annual FFA Advocacy and Legislative Leadership Day brunch. She told members they should always face the challenges of life and persevere. Secretary Fisher told them they should consider careers in agriculture where there is a wide variety of opportunities. He also asked them to step up and use their leadership skills learned in FFA to help agriculture. A group of the students toured the New Jersey State House, while others attended leadership skill-building workshops.
Gypsy Moth -- All municipal gypsy moth egg mass surveys were completed with no positive findings that would trigger spring spraying. Overall, surveys for gypsy moth were conducted in 38 municipalities which experienced defoliation in 2013 and an additional 12 municipalities which historically experienced problems caused by gypsy moth populations.
Soybean Board Grant -- The New Jersey Soybean Board has awarded PABIL $6,000 to support the bureau’s Pediobius foveolatus rearing and release program and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Kudzu Bug surveys in soybeans during 2014.
USDA Foods Conference -- The Department presented the Second Annual USDA Foods Conference on January 9 at the East Brunswick Hilton in East Brunswick, showcasing the newest healthy school lunch offerings that could appear in school cafeterias around the state next school year. More than 300 school food service professionals and business administrators attended presentations and a vendor show of the latest trends in prepared school menu items made from U.S. Department of Agriculture donated bulk foods. The USDA Foods Distribution program allows schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to utilize USDA foods and distribute them to processors who make nutritious reduced fat products at a reduced cost to school districts. This year, there were many creative options including whole wheat crust pizza using black or red beans in place of sauce, whole wheat flat bread that can be used to wrap turkey hot dogs or on sandwiches, and many Asian-style and Middle Eastern foods. The conference gave school food service professionals the opportunity to sample the foods and speak directly with manufacturers to meet their district’s specific needs, helping them to determine which foods to order for the 2014-2015 school year.
Healthier US School Challenge Award Ceremony -- New Jersey Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Agriculture officials on January 28 presented Chairville Elementary School, Cranberry Pines School, Kirby’s Mill Elementary School, Milton H. Allen Elementary School and Taunton Forge School in Medford with the Healthier US School Challenge Award, which recognizes schools that promote good nutrition and physical activity. All five schools attained the Bronze Level of the award, which carries a $500 prize. The schools were presented with banners and certificates for their achievements.
Horseperson of the Year -- The 2013 Governor’s Award for Horseperson of the Year was awarded to the Landy family January 26 at the annual Breeders Luncheon by New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Alfred Murray. The Landys, who own the 200-acre Congress Hill Farm in Monroe Township, have bred and trained horses from childhood and in past years have produced champion horses such as The Porter Grey who was the New Jersey Sire Stakes Champion at 3 and 4 years old. Other Awards handed out at the event were: New Jersey Thoroughbred Horse of the Year: Geeky Gorgeous; New Jersey Standardbred Horse of the Year: I Luv The Nitelife; New Jersey Sire Stakes—Premier Horse of the Year: Smilin Eli; Green Acres Horse of the Year: Ideal Helen; New Jersey Equestrian of the Year: Angela Howard of Mullica Hill; New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award: CarolAnne Bekus, Hillsborough; Sara Dubinin Scholarship: Danielle Kulyk, Aberdeen; Bell Scholarship: Amanda Xue, Holmdel.
Equestrian of the Year -- Angela Howard, a 16 year old Kingsway Regional High School student, was named the 2014 New Jersey Equestrian of the Year by the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board on January 26 at the annual New Jersey Breeder’s Luncheon in Eastampton. She represented Gladstone Equestrian Association. As Equestrian of the Year, Angela will attend functions hosted by the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board and represent the Board at functions. Angela lives in Mullica Hill with her parents and has two older siblings who attend college out of state.
Soil Erosion Standards Online -- The 2014 version of the NJ Soil Erosion Control Standards is now published online at the Department’s website www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/anr/nrc/njerosion.html. The new Standards have been updated to reflect current engineering and agronomic practices used in New Jersey to control erosion and sediment on construction sites.
Animal Health -- Dr. Evelyn Crish has joined the Division of Animal Health to work in emergency preparedness. Dr. Crish was a practicing large animal veterinarian prior to taking this position. She has clinical experience in livestock and is very familiar with the Division’s regulatory work. Dr. Crish will work mainly on emergency preparedness but will help on other functions of the division (disease monitoring programs and humane investigations). She currently is coordinating the development of an Animal Emergency website.
Aquaculture -- Joe Myers, who had served as the Aquaculture Development Specialist for the Department for the last few years resigned from his position on January 9 to pursue another career opportunity. The Department is working toward filling his position.