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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
April 25, 2012
Jersey Grown – Secretary Fisher promoted buying local Jersey Grown products during a visit to McNaughton’s Garden Center in Somers Point on April 17. He encouraged consumers in the Garden State to go to local garden centers and nurseries and call local landscapers when beautifying their landscapes this season. In addition, he urged them to ask for Jersey Grown flowers, plants, trees and shrubs, which means they were grown in New Jersey, are accustomed to the region’s climate and are disease and pest-free. Buying local helps our state’s economy and strengthens the agriculture industry. Horticulture businesses generated $451.1 million in revenue in 2010.
Jersey Fresh -- The seasonal Jersey Fresh Availability and Forecast Report resumed its weekly updates to the region’s produce industry, Cooperative Extension staff, Department personnel, restaurateurs, Jersey Fresh licensed growers, and food media communicators in April. The report gives readers information on the current and future availability of Jersey Fresh produce. The New Jersey Agricultural Statistics Service also disseminates this information in a weekly report.
Community Farmers Markets – The Department is again partnering with the Department of Health and Senior Services in certifying interested farmers to be eligible to receive WIC (Women Infant and Children) coupons. To date, over 100 farmers have been made eligible. The eligibility period is for three years. Work continues on updating the Jersey Fresh website community farmers market listings for the 2012 season.
Feeding the Homeless – Secretary Fisher visited Southern Regional Food Distribution Center in Vineland on March 30 to call attention to the need for the public to support emergency feeding programs. While there, he helped package and serve lunch to residents of the attached homeless shelter. Two programs administered by the Department made the lunch possible – the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which distributes United States Department of Agriculture-donated foods to the state’s six contracted food banks, and the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), which allocates funds to the food banks for the purchase of nutritious foods, including fresh New Jersey produce – which supplement food and monetary donations to the food banks. In the current fiscal year, the Governor and Legislature allocated $6.8 million to the SFPP.
New Food Distribution Program Manager – Jennifer Zeligson has taken the position of Manager of Food Distribution Programs in the Division of Food and Nutrition. She will oversee the Emergency Food Assistance Program, State Food Purchase Program and School Lunch Commodity Distribution Program. Previously, she served as Food Service Director for the Teaneck School District.
FFA Spring Career Development Events -- Almost 300 Agricultural Education students competed in Spring Career Development Events (CDE) on April 19 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The events conducted were: Floriculture, Nursery/Landscape, Environmental and Natural Resources, Agricultural Technical and Mechanical Systems, Agricultural Sales, and Veterinary Science. This was the first year for the Veterinary Science Career Development Event and 11 teams with a total of 44 students competed. These events test students' competencies in what they’ve learned in the classroom.
Gypsy Moth -- No aerial suppression treatments have been scheduled for May due to the overall population collapse of this insect throughout the state. The Department is preparing this month to award the 2012 Aerial Gypsy Moth Defoliation Survey contract. This statewide survey is conducted from mid-June until mid-July to identify areas of gypsy moth infestation for follow up ground egg mass surveys.
Super Science Saturday – The Department co-sponsored Super Science Saturday on March 21 at the State Museum in Trenton. The Department’s Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Program, funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Pest Quarantine, set up displays and gave an educational talk and presentation on invasive pests, including Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer and Gypsy Moth. Invasive insects can be very damaging to one of the state’s most valuable natural resources – trees – which help clean our air and provide habitats for wildlife. The goal of the display and presentation was to enlist the help of everyone in attendance in identifying harmful bugs before they are able impact the state’s forests or residential trees.
Aquaculture Development Plan – The Department will distribute copies of the Aquaculture Development Plan Update, Opportunities and Potential for Aquaculture in New Jersey, to members of the New Jersey Legislature to elicit their support for building the aquaculture industry in the state. This plan identifies several recommendations -- some of which require no funding in order to be accomplished-- where legislators can provide the leadership needed to support this important and growing agricultural sector. . The $6.7 million in aggregate farm value, which includes shellfish and finfish, provides a net economic benefit of more than $37 million to the region and these high-value products help to provide the “shore” experience that the millions of visitors to the Jersey coast expect.
Junior Breeder Symposium -- The annual NJ Junior Breeder and Young farmer Symposium was held March 31 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. More than 200 people attended the event that offered sessions on equine, dairy, small ruminants, poultry, and rabbits.
Agricultural Fair Greetings – The Agricultural Fair Association of New Jersey held its spring fair meeting on April 15 and, at that time, recorded greetings from Secretary Fisher were distributed to the fair coordinators. The greetings are used by the fairs to play over loudspeakers at times of their choosing during the fair. The greetings reinforce the importance of fairs to the state’s agriculture community and encourage people to support New Jersey agriculture products. The first fair of the season is the Cumberland County Cooperative Fair July 2-7.
Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event and Equine Exposition -- The Jersey Fresh International Three Day Event is scheduled for May `10-13. This event will serve as a selection trail for the eventing team that will represent the United States in the London Olympics. In conjunction with the Three Day Event, the Department will hold the New Jersey Equine Exposition May 12-13.