Secretary's Report to the State Board
April 26, 2006Deer Fencing – The Department is offering a Deer Fencing program cooperatively with Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension. The cost-share program will provide fencing material and up to 30 percent of the line posts at no cost to qualified farmers who were not awarded fencing in the 2004/2005 program. This is the second year of the Department’s deer fencing program. In 2005, fence, accompanying wire and posts were distributed to 100 farmers throughout the state. The deadline to apply for this year’s program is May 31. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/grants/deer.html.
Market Report – New Ad Campaign: Advertisements began running the week of April 17, featuring shrubs, spinach and asparagus. In May, ads for herbs and romaine lettuce will begin airing. The campaign includes ads for Jersey Fresh, Jersey Grown and Jersey Seafood products. It combines 15-second television ads and print ads. The advertising campaign will be combined with a more aggressive public relations effort to set New Jersey produced agriculture products apart in the marketplace.
Restaurant Association Meeting: Members of the New Jersey Restaurant Association met with Secretary Kuperus and staff to discuss a number of initiatives effecting restaurants in the state. The Department and the group plan to announce a cooperative program to place signs in restaurants proclaiming the establishment’s commitment to serve New Jersey-produced and harvested products.
Retailer Visits: In May, Secretary Kuperus and Division of Marketing and Development staff members will visit major retailers to encourage them to purchase and sell Jersey Fresh products as they become available.
Weekly Jersey Fresh Report: The weekly produce update and forecast resumed on April 10th to 230 produce buyers, growers, chefs, restaurant owners, and members of the media.
Animal Waste Rule – The latest version of the draft animal waste rules, approved by the state Board of Agriculture last month, will be sent to stakeholders and individuals who commented on the first draft and those who participated in the three public outreach meetings for another 60 day informal review period.
Asian Longhorned Beetle – A cluster of 150 mature infested trees was found in an industrial area of eastern Linden in April, necessitating the expansion of the Middlesex/Union County quarantine zone to parts of two new towns Roselle and Elizabeth. Many of the infested trees found in eastern Linden bore signs of long-term infestation, suggesting the infestation dates back at least six or seven years. Efforts are ongoing to arrange for all the infested trees in this newly found area to be taken down before the end of June to avoid giving beetles time to emerge for another season.
Gypsy Moth – The 2006 Gypsy Moth Suppression Program gets under way May 3 and May 10 with aerial spraying of forested residential areas in 19 municipalities in Atlantic, Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, Sussex and Warren Counties. Gypsy moth caterpillars were responsible for about 44,000 acres of defoliation in 2005, compared to about 6,500 acres in 2004. The hardest-hit counties were Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth and Sussex.
New Department Website – A cooperative project with Office of Information Technology and the Department of Agriculture to create a new New Jersey Department of Agriculture website has been completed. The new site at www.nj.gov/agriculture was launched on April 18. Highlights include a Topics A to Z section, making it easier for users to find the information they are looking for. The Consumers and Farmers sections have been updated to provide easy access to the most sought after information offered on the site. The Applications and Forms page has been reorganized to give users fingertip access to the documents they are looking for.
Agribusiness Training Needs Survey -- To date, 41 people have completed our online Agribusiness Training needs Survey. There have been 476 visits to the site. So far, the survey has determined that 37 percent of those filling out the survey were from the Field and Forage industry; 59 percent were full-time owner-operators. The highest priorities identified by the survey were increasing sales through Internet marketing; cost-benefit analysis for crop selection and management strategies; cost benefit analysis for marketing strategies; analyzing risks and returns of new agribusiness opportunities; writing and implementing a business plan; identifying new markets and consumer trends; identifying and serving specialty markets; risk management for farm businesses; right to farm and conflict management; legal aspects, including form of ownership, estate planning and succession planning; and, improving sales and negotiation skills. Rutgers University’s Office of Continuing Education is developing an education and Training program to address these needs. Thanks to Rutgers for developing the survey and tabulating the results.
Avian Influenza -- On March 30, New Jersey hosted a Tri-State Avian Influenza Program coordination meeting with New York and Pennsylvania. The meeting provided an opportunity for the states to develop standardized protocols for all cooperators to utilize in the following areas: Market Biosecurity and Inspection Protocols; Distributor Requirements; Market Entry Requirements; State Monitored Flock Programs; Flock testing protocol and sample selection; Transporter Biosecurity; Enforcement Activities; Auction Participation Certified Tester Program. The three states also agreed to continue to work closely together to provide a Regional AI Response.
Landowner Outreach Meetings -- The State Agriculture Development Committee has scheduled a series of outreach sessions in May and June for landowners interested in preserving their farms under state acquisition programs. The sessions have been scheduled statewide during or immediately prior to regularly scheduled county agriculture development board meetings. The sessions will provide landowners with information about the application, selection and preservation process under the direct easement purchase and fee simple programs. These programs complement other SADC programs in which counties, municipalities and nonprofits take the lead role. Outreach meeting dates are available on the SADC's website at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/sadc/sadc.htm.
Farmland Preservation -- The SADC announced on April 19 the preservation of the 43-acre Runnin’ Free farm in Hillsborough, Somerset County. The farm owned by Mae Giarrusso was purchased in 1977. Her grandson John Giarrusso III operates the certified organic farm, selling eggs and vegetables. The SADC purchased the development right under its direct easement program. The land is now deed-restricted for agricultural use.
Green Energy – The Department’s initiatives to foster the production and use of green energy by farmers were the subject of two public outreach efforts during the week of April 17-23. The “Positions and Rationales” section of the Green Energy web page was updated to reflect successes already achieved, such as last year’s passage of a state law phasing out the use of MTBE in gasoline, and emerging challenges, like the attempt to reinstate the property tax exemption for solar and other alternative energy systems. The green energy page can be found at www.nj.gov/agriculture/news/hottopics/topics060222.html. On April 23, Dairy Program Coordinator Daniel Wunderlich and Public Information Officer Jeff Beach took a Department display on green energy to the Atlantic County Earth Day fair to highlight the Department’s vision for how bio-fuels like ethanol, bio-diesel and biogas will eventually provide renewable solutions to our state’s energy needs by using products and byproducts from our farms.