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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
March 26, 2008Gypsy Moth – The Gypsy Moth Aerial Suppression program will begin in May with 80 towns, 9 colleges, county parks, Rutgers Garden and portions of the Garden State Parkway in 18 counties. About 100,000 acres are proposed to be sprayed with one treatment of B.t.k. The Department already has been notified it will receive $1,154,100 to reimburse towns for a portion of their costs associated with the gypsy moth spray program.
Gleaning Grants -- Three organizations in the state that feed the hungry by redirecting surplus food items donated by local farms will share $100,000 in grants through the New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Food Purchase Program - Gleaning Support Program. The funds were released today to the following non-profit groups: Interfaith Food Pantry in Morristown, $5,494; Tri-County Community Action Partnership in Bridgeton, $15,000; and the New Jersey Agricultural Society/Farmers Against Hunger, $79,506. The Gleaning Support Program grants must be used by the gleaning organizations for collection, distribution and administrative costs. The groups must distribute the gleaned New Jersey grown produce or non-farm nutrient dense rescued food gleaned from non-farm sources outside of the growing season only to New Jersey residents. The funding for the grants comes from the State Food Purchase Program, which was established to set in motion the Governor’s hunger initiative. In Fiscal Year 2008, the program received $4 million for the purchase of healthy foods for the hungry.
Beekeeping – A program to encourage new beekeepers in the state was announced on March 5 that would give up to $300 worth of start up equipment to 50 prospective beekeepers. One of the requirements of receiving the free equipment was to complete the Rutgers’ Bee-ginners Beekeeping course. Since announcement of the program, the scheduled April 10-12 class was filled and a second added class May 15-17 was filled. At least another 50 people have been placed on a waiting list for a possible third added class.
Jets Eat Right, Move More Program – The Department and the New York Jets are kicking off spring visits to winning schools in last fall’s Eat Right, Move More program, which encourages students around the state to eat the healthy foods offered in their school cafeterias under the state’s nutrition standards. The first school visit is to Halsted Middle School in Newton on March 26 with Jets offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. On April 2, the Jets Stacy Tutt will visit Cecil S. Collins School in Barnegat Township. And, on April 9, a visit will be made to Northfield Community Elementary School in Northfield, Atlantic County.
National Agriculture Day/FFA –The Allentown High School FFA Chapter hosted a program on March 20 celebrating National Agriculture Day and highlighting the need for strong agricultural education programs and trained agricultural education teachers. Allentown High School is facing the loss of its two fulltime agricultural education teachers – Jack and Cynthia Roszel, who will be retiring later this year after a combined 68 years of teaching in ag education. Through those years, they have instructed about 5,040 students and 288 FFA officers. Agriculture is a significant part of New Jersey’s working landscape with 9,800 farms on about 800,000 acres. The Agriculture Council of America established National Agriculture Day on the first day of spring each year to build awareness of agriculture’s important contributions in our country and to encourage young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.
Animal Waste Rule -- The Department has proposed its Criteria and Standards for Animal Waste Management in the March 2008 New Jersey Register. The rules provide for the proper disposal of animal waste, including criteria and standards for the composting, handling, storage, processing, utilization and disposal of animal wastes. The rules will apply to farms in the state that generate, handle or receive animal waste, and establish general requirements for all livestock farms to follow. The rules also require the development and implementation of self-certified plans based on thresholds of animal units (1 animal unit = 1,000 pounds of live weight) and animal density (animal units/acre).
Beef Recall – The Department is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support a Class 2 recall of beef distributed through the National School Lunch Program. The recall impacted numerous school districts throughout the state that received products such as taco meat, beef patties and sandwich steaks as early as February 2006. The Department worked with the state Department of Education to notify these districts of first, an administrative hold on the beef and then the recall, providing them with directives for disposal of any product that remained in stock. The Division of Food and Nutrition collected information on what product was not consumed and proof of proper disposal and reported to the USDA.
Agricultural Plastics Recycling Program – Secretary Kuperus and the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association teamed up at Johnson Farms in Deerfield on February 20 to encourage agricultural operations to recycle plastics. There they watched a demonstration of a greenhouse cover baler. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has facilitated a year-round nursery and greenhouse film collection and recycling program since 1997. Such film is plastic that is used to cover greenhouses for environmental control and hoop houses for over-wintering of nursery material. In 2007, 715,000 pounds of film was recycled by New Jersey growers, resulting in growers saving almost $15,000 in landfill tipping fees. For more information on these programs, visit: www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/recycling.html.
Organic Program – In January, the first New Jersey dairy farm was certified under the Department’s organic certification program. To date, 60 producers and 23 handlers have been certified or updated.
Humane Standards – The New Jersey Supreme Court heard arguments on March 10 on the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other organizations’ challenge of the validity of the Department’s Humane Standards for the Treatment of Livestock. Petitioners contend the Department failed to implement the legislative directive in that permitted practices are not humane. The development of the standards was mandated by law and was the result of research and study, reflective of science and the comments received during the rule making process.
Farmland Assessment Advisory Committee – The Department has developed an outline for establishing an advisory committee to study the state’s Farmland Assessment law.
Jersey Fresh Canned Tomatoes – Secretary Kuperus helped to introduce a new value-added product made exclusively with tomatoes grown in New Jersey on Wednesday, March 12. Jersey Fresh Crushed Tomatoes is being sold in the Food Circus Super Foodtown chain in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. It will have wider distribution within the next month. The product is the result of a partnership encouraged by the Department of producers, the processor, Violet Packing of Williamstown, the distributor Consolidated Dairies and retailers. The partnership promotes the Jersey Fresh brand and creates a market for tomato farmers.