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March 26, 2003

Emergency Planning - As a result of the war, emergency activities were stepped up this month. The Attorney General requested an updated Homeland Security Advisory System for the Department and the agricultural sector, including a listing of veterinary hospitals and a revised Security and Biosecurity Best Management Practices for the agricultural and food sectors. The Department and other state agencies attended the New Jersey Food Council Biosecurity Table Top Exercise at the request of the N.J. Office of Counter-Terrorism. The exercise demonstrated the critical nature of the food sector to New Jersey citizens and issues to be addressed regarding cleaning, disinfecting, disposal and recovery.

Just as the Department, other government agencies and industry are examining emergency planning, farmers should also review their own operations. Farmers should know who is critical staff, where animals and people can be moved to in the event of a problem, what farm security measures are being or should be taken, and to whom to report suspicious behavior. For more information, farmers should go to the Department's web site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture and click on the link for homeland security.

Soil Erosion and Sediment Control /Watershed Planning - The State Committee and various districts are actively involved in several research endeavors aimed at improving the methods engineers use to design and implement stormwater management in New Jersey. Two studies have been initiated to refine the methods used to calculate stormwater runoff flows for the Coastal Plain areas of the state. This will lead to more accurate prediction of runoff and proper sizing of stormwater management facilities.

In addition to these studies, State Committee staff, with the Mercer Soil Conservation District, have developed a highly specialized approach to site design known as "Low Impact Development." This approach seeks to maintain the existing conditions of the land as much as possible, thereby minimizing runoff and pollutant generation.

The South Jersey Regional Watershed Planning Project is now entering the third year of its three-year, $1.8 million grant from the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection. The purpose is to develop regional stormwater management plans for several watersheds in southern New Jersey. The final phase of this project will include the development of watershed specific models to predict stormwater runoff and pollutant loading.

NJ FFA Horticultural Exposition - More than 650 entries were judged at the 26th annual New Jersey FFA Horticultural Exposition, held from March 7-9 at the Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrenceville, Mercer County. Students from more than 20 schools competed for awards in three divisions - Horticulture, Fresh Arrangement and Permanent Arrangement. Twenty floral industry judges provided expertise to score the entries. All judges' comments were provided to participants as a way to enhance the educational process of the event.

Exotic Newcastle Disease - Exotic Newcastle Disease continues to spread in southern California. It has now spread to 17 commercial poultry operations, at a cost of more than $35 million and requiring a daily staff of up to 1,400 people on the California task force alone. In an effort to keep the disease from entering New Jersey, the Division of Animal Health has written an Emergency Order and an Emergency Rule prohibiting any birds from coming into the state from those counties diagnosed with the disease and from adjacent counties. Furthermore, the order and rule will mandate that all birds coming into the state will need a permit for entry from the Division of Animal Health. This action will enable the Division to track bird movement into the state and enhance the safety of New Jersey's poultry industry, game bird industry, pet birds and the wild bird population.

Marketing and Development - The "Where to Find Pick-Your-Own Fruits and Vegetables" brochure is set for release the end of April. The information also will be posted on the Jersey Fresh website www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov. Department staff has been active in developing Community Farmers Markets. Ten potential new markets have been proposed for opening this year in addition to the 49 existing markets. Staff has also re-certified all WIC/FMNP vendors, and forwarded applications for 10 new vendors. These programs are funded by federal allocations from the Farm Bill nutrition programs. New Jersey is expected to receive more than $560,000 that will be redeemable at certified farm stands and markets. Staff also has redesigned the promotional poster so it will be bilingual to further promote awareness of farmers' participation in the program.

Southern Wilt of Geraniums- Ralstonia solanacearum -The Department was alerted that cutting geraniums produced in Kenya and shipped to New Jersey greenhouse growers may have been infected with a bacterial plant pathogen called Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, also known as southern wilt which causes wilting and death in geraniums. The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA APHIS issued the alert because the race 3 biovar 2 strain of Ralstonia solanacearum has the ability to infect important food crops such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. To date, plant material from nine greenhouse operations have been released, having tested negative for this disease. Two plant samples from one grower tested positive for Ralstonia solanacearum in our laboratory and have been forwarded to a USDA APHIS Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to determine whether they are infected with race 3 biovar 2. Growers should be aware of where their cuttings are coming from to prevent the spread of this disease.

Beneficial Insect Production Increases at the Alampi Laboratory - All insect production programs are increasing on schedule as the 2003 release season approaches. Galerucella spp. beetles for the control of purple loosestrife, Pediodius fovelatus for control of Mexican bean beetle, Persistenis stygicus for control of tarnished plant bug, and Cybocephalus nipponicus for the control of scale are all increasing at the expected rate to meet the Department's goals for 2003. Despite substantial cold damage to hemlock adelgid in the field, collections supported predator rearing and numbers of the predatory beetle, Pseudoscymnus tsugae, produced in the laboratory colony continued to increase. At present 45,000 beetles are in storage awaiting release.