Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition Program – Applications are being accepted now for a program to recognize schools and farmers who work together to ensure students have access to healthy Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in their school cafeterias. The 2014-2015 Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition Program is available to schools and farms who regularly participate in Farm to School activities. The applications can be found online at: http://bit.ly/1erIfPb. There are many benefits to the schools and farms to participate in the recognition program. For schools, they get the opportunity to expand their farm to school efforts, highlight Jersey Fresh produce in their meals, and to educate students about good nutrition and the New Jersey Agricultural industry. Farmers will find the program is a new marketing opportunity to strengthen the relationship between their farm and community. Both schools and farmers will receive a Jersey Fresh Farm to School promotional materials kit, including a banner to display informing students and the community of their participation in the program.
Jersey Fresh Report – The Jersey Fresh Availability and Forecast report resumed for the season on April 21, reporting that asparagus, dandelions, kale, leeks and spinach were beginning to harvest. The report is sent to reporters, industry representatives and other interested parties and posted on the Jersey Fresh website each week at http://www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov/agriculture/jerseyfresh/find/JFAvailReport.pdf.
Audrey Rowe Summer Food Service Roundtable -- Secretary Fisher joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Service Administrator Audrey Rowe on April 7 for a roundtable discussion on ways to improve access to nutritious summer meals for children in Camden. Last summer, the City of Camden Department of Human Services and Urban Promise Ministries, Inc. provided the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at 126 sites in Camden. Rowe sought feedback from local officials on the issues and challenges facing Camden to providing more access to the program for local children. The program feeds students who receive free school meals with breakfast and lunch during the summer months. SFSP is administered by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and is federally funded. Rowe is traveling the country meeting with mayors and other local leaders to promote summer meals in an effort to reach as many young children as possible who might otherwise go without nutritious meals this summer.
Concannon School Breakfast Visit -- Secretary Fisher welcomed Kevin W. Concannon, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services on April 1 in Woodbury City where the school district has increased the school breakfast participation rate by 50 percent. The pair visited Evergreen Avenue Elementary School where all students receive a free breakfast in their classroom at the beginning of the school day. Concannon came to New Jersey to commend the state for making great strides in increasing participation in the School Breakfast Program. This year, the Food Research and Action Center reported in its school breakfast report card that New Jersey increased in national rank to 37th in breakfast participation from the 2011-2012 to the 2012-2013 school year. New Jersey also was among only nine states to have a five percent or higher increase in breakfast participation. In the current school year, almost 37,000 more students are eating breakfast on a daily basis, a 16.8 percent increase over the 2012-2013 school year. There are about 255,000 children in New Jersey who participate in the program daily.
Concannon and Fisher also took a short tour and had a panel discussion at the Food Bank of South Jersey in Pennsauken.
Whale Necropsy – On April 17, a Division of Animal Health conducted a necropsy on a whale found dead in the water in the area of Port Elizabeth. The whale was brought ashore in Jersey City where the necropsy was performed outdoors. Samples were taken back to the Animal Health Diagnostic lab to determine the cause of death.
Animal Emergency Working Group Symposium – The symposium will be held April 28 at the Horse Park of New Jersey to make connections, network with others in animal emergency planning and preparedness and benefit from hands-on programs including large animal rescue training and actually setting up a shelter. In the past few years the symposiums have dealt with a few big storms and subsequent flooding, damage, and power outages. Along the way, there have been many lessons and the group has met a few times to discuss and exercise what was learned. However, this is the first training on large animal rescue. A sheltering trailer will be used to actually set up a shelter.
Plant Industry News -- Emerald Ash Borer survey continued this month with the inspection of trapping locations for host material. Division staff visited over 302 grid squares and obtained permission for trapping at 169 sites.
No aerial suppression treatments have been scheduled for May by the Division due to the continued population collapse of this insect throughout the state. The 2014 Aerial Gypsy Moth Defoliation Survey contract was awarded to Downstown Aero Crop Service of Vineland. This statewide aerial survey is conducted from mid-June until mid-July to identify areas of gypsy moth infestation. .
Production of the Mile-a-minute defoliator, Rhinoncomimus latipes, continues to increase in preparation for the summer season. In addition to in state shipments, orders for more than 65,000 weevils have already been placed by USDA/APHIS/PPQ cooperators and private property owners.
Colonies from 10 New Jersey apiaries were sampled as part of the 2013 USDA APHIS National honey bee survey. The results of the survey showed that the overall number of pesticides found per apiary and the types of pesticides found in the samples were less than what was reported in 2012.
FFA Spring Career Development Events -- More than 250 Agricultural Education students participated in Spring Career Development Events (CDE) at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences on April 10. These events serve as an extension of the classroom and test students' competency in various areas of agriculture. Thirty-four industry representatives coordinated or served as judges. The New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association (NJNLA) coordinated the Nursery/Landscape CDE for the first time this year. We are excited about this partnership.
New Jersey Junior Breeders -- The Junior Breeder Symposium was held on April 5. More than 250 were in attendance for educational programs for sheep, goats, dairy, equine, and poultry.
Aquaculture -- The Aquaculture Advisory Council met on April 11 and discussed the concerns of the oyster growers from the Cape May Oyster Cooperative. The key challenges they identified were improving production methods to meet demand, navigating the regulatory framework, dealing with the increasing threat of vibrio and future market competition. Applications have been received for the Aquaculture Specialist position and interviews will soon be scheduled.
Eastern Produce Council Dinner -- The Department and three commodity groups will host an Eastern Produce Council meeting at Demarest Farm in Bergen County on Tuesday, May 20 beginning at 6 pm.