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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
April 22, 2009Federal Stimulus Food Service Equipment Grants – Grants are being offered to New Jersey school districts that participate in the National School lunch program to purchase equipment to improve school nutrition programs, part of President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money will help schools purchase equipment that will improve the safety and quality of meals served in schools and also play a part in improving energy efficiency and expanded participation in the school meal programs. New Jersey was allocated a total of $1.8 million. As required by the Act, priority will be given to schools that have 50 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced price meals. In addition, selected schools must be able to expend the grant funds within three months of receipt. The deadline to submit a grant application is May 1. More information may be found at www.nj.gov/agriculture/pdf/FoodEquipGrantsApp.pdf.
Gypsy Moth Suppression Program – The 2009 Gypsy Moth Aerial Suppression Program is set to begin in early May with 36,577 acres in 56 municipalities and 11 agencies in 16 counties set to be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis, (B.t.). About 30 towns originally proposed for spraying opted out of the program this year due to budgetary concerns. The Department is awaiting word on whether New Jersey will receive federal cost share funds to reimburse towns for a portion of the spraying costs. Last year, towns received 23 percent cost reimbursement from the U.S. Forest Service. Congressman LoBiondo has requested a $2 million earmark for gypsy moth suppression in the federal budget for next year’s program.
Bees – The cooler weather has not been conducive to a fast build up of colony strength. Preliminary results of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association winter death loss survey is reporting 30 percent mortality, up from 17 percent last winter. Meanwhile, the interest in becoming a beekeeper remains strong. Two classes of Bee-ginning Beekeeping sold out. A third beginners’ course was added for October. Two advanced beekeeping classes are limited to 40 students each and are expected to fill very quickly. For information about the classes visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/beeinspection.html#1.
Secretary Listening Tour – Secretary Fisher has been meeting with county boards of agriculture around the state in an effort to learn more about the issues facing farmers in each county. This month he visited county boards in Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth, and Somerset counties.
Eat Right, Move More Program – The 2008-2009 Eat Right, Move More program with the New York Jets concluded this month with visits to schools in Berkeley Township, Sayreville and North Plainfield. Players Rob Turner, Marques Murrell and Chansi Stuckey visited with students to encourage them to eat healthier and become more physically active. The program this year focused on schools that offer school breakfast. The Jets have announced they will continue the successful program for the next school year.
Jersey Fresh Reports -- The seasonal "Jersey Fresh Availability & Forecast Report" has resumed updating the region’s produce industry, Cooperative Extension staff, Department personnel, restaurateurs, Jersey Fresh licensed growers, and food media on the current and future availability of Jersey Fresh produce. The report indicates the general quality and quantity of produce available in the marketplace. This information can help buyers with their purchasing and marketing decisions as they relate to Jersey products since retailers typically design their store circulars and marketing strategies three to four weeks in advance.
Community Farmers Markets – The Department developed a web page to assist those wishing to start community farmers markets and farmers wishing to find markets to sell their products at www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/farmersmarkethelp.html. There could be as many as 30 new markets forming around the state for the 2009 season. The Jersey Fresh website is being updated with information from existing markets and any new markets to assist consumers in accessing Jersey Fresh produce this year. The search page can be accessed at www.nj.gov/jerseyfresh/searches/urban.htm.
Farm Preserved -- The 32-acre Riverforks Farm in Winslow Township, Camden County has been preserved. The SADC purchased the development rights to the farm for $885,416. When landowners sell their development rights, they continue to own the land but agree to permanent deed restrictions that protect the land for agricultural use. Owner, J. Evans Jennings Jr.’s family has been farming in South Jersey since 1677 and in Sicklerville since the 1800’s. He grew up on the farm and purchased it from his farther in the 1960’s. He grows hay for sale to equine operations.
Sturgis Farm Purchase – The SADC purchased the 128-acre Sturgis Farm in South Harrison Township, Gloucester County, to permanently preserve the farm, which is located in the midst of an active farmland preservation project area and was the proposed site for a 72-unit housing development. The purchase culminates a four-year effort to protect the land from development. The SADC intends to resell the farm as permanently preserved at a public auction later this year or early next year.
Farm Auctions -- The SADC will hold public auctions in May and June to sell 11 preserved farms in Salem, Hunterdon, Warren and Burlington counties. Farms to be auctioned are: in Salem County, the former Heil Farm in Alloway Township, the former Sassi Farm in Carneys Point Township and the former Schroeder Farm in Pittsgrove Township; in Hunterdon County, the former Riback Farm in Lebanon Township, the former Case Farm and the former Holcombe Farm in West Amwell Township, and the former Segreaves Farm in Alexandria Township; in Warren County, the former Jayne Farm in Greenwich Township and Alpha Borough, and the former Eagle Valley Farm in Mansfield Township; and in Burlington County, the former Erb Farm and the former Limm Farm in North Hanover Township. Information on the farms and bidding procedures can be obtained on the SADC’s website at www.nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/farmpreserve/auctions/index.html.
Equine Tests – The Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory is now connected with GlobalVetLink for online submittals of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA/Coggins) tests. Equine Infectious Anemia is a viral disease for which there is no vaccine or cure. Most horses die from EIA, but some horses recover and become carriers. It is believed the disease is spread by any blood-sucking fly or mosquitoes. To protect the health of other horses, the Coggins test checks for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) antibodies in the horse's blood. The test is required to sell and move horses into and within the State of New Jersey. With Global VetLink’s system, the NJDA lab now has the ability to more efficiently turn around lab results, while adding an official electronic signature from the resulting technician. Global VetLink’s website is www.globalvetlink.com and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aquatic Lab Testing – New Jersey’s Animal Health Laboratory has been approved by USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service National Veterinary Services Laboratories to conduct export testing for infectious hematopoietic necrosis, spring viremia of carp and viral hemorrhagic septicemia. This provides aquatic farmers in the state with the ability to have in-state testing to ensure the health of their livestock and enable them to move their fish out of state.