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April 23, 2003

Farmland Preservation Legislation - Legislation (A3514) proposed for introduction on May 5th would reduce the Garden State Preservation Trust allocation for farmland preservation from $80 million per year to approximately $50 million. This would make the Governor's goal to preserve 20,000 acres of farmland per year highly unlikely, hamper the state's efforts to combat sprawl and limit the State Agriculture Development Committee's resources to ensure a stable and affordable agricultural land base for the future.

Strategic Targeting Initiative - Outreach meetings with counties continued throughout the month to outline and solicit comment on the Department's draft Agricultural Smart Growth Plan and the State Agriculture Development Committee's Strategic Targeting Project. To date, the presentations have been well received and supportive of the department's efforts. Thirteen of the 18 scheduled meetings have taken place. The outreach team has been to the following counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Camden, Cape May, Hunterdon, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren

Nursery Promotion - Agriculture Secretary Kuperus visited a Mercer County nursery and garden center to help celebrate National Garden Month and kick off the start of the spring gardening season. In a press event designed to promote New Jersey's nursery and garden centers, Secretary Kuperus toured Kale Nursery, a nursery, garden center and landscape operation on Carter Road in Lawrence Township. Joining him was Carl Nordstrom, executive director of the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association.

Dairy Compact Letter - The Secretary sent letters to the New Jersey congressional delegation urging their support on new legislation H.R. 324 that would re-establish and expand the Northeast Dairy Compact. This bill would help stop the loss of New Jersey dairy farms by allowing the market to more fairly reflect the regional cost of doing business.

Soil Conservation District Operations Review Work Group - The work group conducted a comprehensive review of the institutional, financial, technical and administrative needs of the conservation program. A preliminary draft report was presented at the State Soil Conservation Committee's April 14 meeting and was mailed to all Soil Conservation Districts for review and comment. The report outlines potential statutory and rule changes, policies, guidelines and training needs.

Review of DEP Water Quality Rule Proposals - The State Board of Agriculture provided comments to the DEP rule proposals for establishing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) on certain lakes, for designating Category 1 streams - the state's cleanest waters - and on the proposed 300-foot buffer requirements as contained in the Stormwater Management Rules.

Exotic Newcastle Disease Update -In April, Secretary Kuperus issued an emergency rule requiring all birds entering New Jersey to obtain a permit from the Division of Animal Health prior to entry. No birds or avian products originating from or transiting through the affected counties or adjacent counties in California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas will be permitted to enter the State of New Jersey.

Spring Career Development Events - More than 200 agricultural education students participated in spring career development events at Cook College on April 10. Career development events, which serve to test students' competencies, were conducted with the expertise of 15 industry professionals, six Department of Agriculture staff, and five Rutgers Cooperative Extension staff. Students were tested in the fields of Floriculture, Nursery/Landscape, Agriculture Sales, Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Mechanics.

Asian Longhorned Beetle Survey Update - Department staff is continuing the survey for Asian Longhorned Beetle in Jersey City and Hoboken. Host trees in 95% of the quarantine area have been pre-cleared and 90% of those host trees have been climbed, or identified for bucket truck inspection in Jersey City; approximately 80% of the quarantine area has been pre-cleared and about 45% has been climbed or identified for bucket truck inspection in Hoboken.

Gypsy Moth Aerial Suppression Program - Division staff met with the administrators of the 14 municipalities, Stockton State College and the New Jersey Highway Authority to ensure that the participating municipalities and agencies have completed all of the regulatory requirements prior to conducting spray operations. Approximately, 4,860 acres of forested residential properties and 1,400 acres of state lands infested with gypsy moth will be treated under the voluntary Gypsy Moth Cooperative Suppression Program beginning May 5, 2003 in the southern counties and on or about May 14, 2003 in the north.

Horse Park - The Horse Park of New Jersey will be hosting two international events in May. The Garden State Combined Driving Event will be May 10, 11. This event features the USA Equestrian/US Equestrian Team selection trial as well as a section of the Federal Equestrian International North American Driving Challenge. The Canadian-American Spring Carriage Driving Tournament, the Bell Crown Carriages Preliminary Pony Challenge, and the Mighty Mini Challenge will also be held at that time. The second event is the Jersey Fresh Combined Course International scheduled for May 29 through June 1. This is the first time a two-star, three-day event is returning to New Jersey since the early 1990's and the first time for such an event at the Park.