Farmland Preservation - From the State of the State address to a celebration of reaching the 100,000-acre mark, Governor Mc Greevey joined the Secretary in supporting the importance of the Farmland Preservation Program. "This 100,000-acre milestone is important not only for agriculture, but for the smart growth of New Jersey," said the Governor. "Farmland preservation protects our working landscapes so that future generations will have the land they need to farm. That is why in my State of the State address yesterday, I promised to preserve 20,000 acres of farmland a year. By limiting sprawl and preserving open space we are also protecting the quality of life throughout New Jersey's communities." The Governor made his comments at the Giamarese farm in East Brunswick, which officially entered the state Farmland Preservation Program in December and put New Jersey over the 100,000-acre preservation mark.
Division Of Food And Nutrition - With the merger of Food Distribution and Child Nutrition Bureau, the Department of Agriculture has a new division, the Division of Food and Nutrition. The merger will help in the implementation and maximization of food and nutrition programs in New Jersey. The two units will physically merge on February 13.
The new Division will be located at 33 West State Street with Kathy Kuser as Division Director.
Farm Market Programs - Market Development staff facilitated updating of all materials used in registration of Certified Vendors in the WIC/Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (WIC/FMNP). All Certified Vendors must re-register to be in the program. Staff will finalize data received in the Vendor Survey. These results will be helpful in planning for the 2003 WIC/FMNP season. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DOHSS) application for WIC/Farmers' Market Nutrition Program funding from the USDA for 2003 has been accepted; funding is expected to be at least the same as in the 2002 season ($802,000). The DOHSS application for the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program is also expected to be accepted and at the same funding level as in 2003 ($435,000). This is a great opportunity for farmers who sell and should be considered by anyone interested in selling produce at farm markets.
Asian Longhorned Beetle - Phase I of the tree removal started on January 20. This phase will include the removal of all 102 infested trees and approximately 48 other non-infested host trees. The complete removal operation consists of three phases and will result in the felling of a total of 460 trees on a nine acre sight where the infestation was detected. USDA believes that this action will result in a 99% probability of complete eradication of ALB. Department staff is working with the NJ Forest Service and the US Forest Service on the development of a reforestation plan for the area.
Animal Health - A health program based on the New Jersey Cattle Health Assurance Program (NJCHAP) is under development for sheep, goats and camelids. This comprehensive preventive health management program will assist producers and hobbyists by providing the tools and expertise needed for optimizing the health of their animals. By conducting a farm "evaluation" and carefully examining the herd or flock's health management program (or lack of it), allows the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) implementer to develop an individual herd or flock plan specific to that producer's needs. This health program will offer a comprehensive herd health management program that will include surveillance testing for diseases infectious to livestock and humans, and will offer recommendations for environmental stewardship and animal welfare.
Regional Supervisor Meetings - The Secretary led regional meetings for conservation district supervisors held in the south, central and northern areas of the State. The meetings were cosponsored by the Department of Agriculture/State Soil Conservation Committee and NJ Association of Conservation Districts with the purpose to discuss the 2002 Farm Bill, planning for agricultural technical assistance for farms, assessment of the soil and water conservation program and other policy issues. Forty-five supervisors, the governing body members of conservation districts, district managers and representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service participated in the meetings.
DEP Stormwater Management Rule Review - State Soil Conservation Committee staff are reviewing two proposed DEP stormwater rules and preparing comments to analyze their impact on agricultural operations and to determine potential conflicts with the Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control. These standards are the technical basis for certification of stormwater and erosion control plans for development activities. The Stormwater Management Rule proposes 300-foot buffers on lands adjacent to waterways designated as C-1 and their tributaries within the same watershed. The NJPDES Underground Injection Rule establishes the parameters for phase two of the stormwater discharge permit program.
New Jersey's 2003 Outstanding Young Farmer - Ryan Ploch, New Jersey's 2003 Outstanding Young Farmer, has been selected as one of the top 25 young farmer finalists from across the USA to compete for one of the coveted four National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards. Ploch will compete at the 2003 National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards Congress to be held February 13-16, in Louisville, Kentucky. The Outstanding Young Farmer program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, dating back to 1955. The goals of the program are to foster better urban-rural relations by promoting a better understanding of farmers' challenges, as well as the appreciation of their contributions and achievements; to bring about a greater interest in farmers/ranchers; and to help build an urban awareness of the farmers' importance and impact on America's economy. The New Jersey agricultural community wishes Ryan the best as he prepares for Louisville.