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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
April 27, 2011
2,000th NJ Farm Preserved – A ceremony was held April 8 in Salem County to celebrate the preservation of the 2,000th farm under the State Farmland Preservation Program. The 102-acre Tark farm on Quaker Neck Road in Mannington Township, Salem County, was among the recent preservation projects that helped the state Farmland Preservation Program reach the 2,000-farm mark. The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) preserved the farm in December by acquiring its development rights. Secretary Fisher said the preservation of 2,000 farms is a major step toward ensuring that New Jersey will continue to earn its reputation as the Garden State.
Former Princeton Nurseries Preservation -- The Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection marked Earth Week on April 18 by announcing agreements to preserve 1,900 acres in the heart of central New Jersey as wildlife habitat, preserved farmland, and additions to county parks and greenways along historic Crosswicks Creek. The land is owned by the Flemer family, which until recently operated the tract as Princeton Nurseries, once one of the nation’s largest commercial nurseries. More than 1,000 acres will be preserved as open space. Another 900 acres will be preserved through acquisitions of development rights on farmland. The agreements were made possible by the DEP's Green Acres Program and the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC).
Equine Herpes – Two Monmouth County horse farms remain under quarantine after one horse died and five others were sickened from the neurologic form of Equine Herpes Virus, Type One, at one of the farms earlier this month. Overbrook Farm in Colts Neck was quarantined on April 14 and Tourelay Farm in Colts Neck was quarantined on April 15. The quarantines were expected to last 21 days, unless more horses became ill. Horse movement on and off each property was ceased and only essential farm personnel have been allowed access. The EHV-1 virus spreads quickly from horse to horse, has a high morbidity and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from a complete lack of clinical signs to respiratory problems, especially in young horses, and spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares. In addition, the neurologic form EHV-1 can cause an acute paralytic syndrome which results in a high mortality. Transmission of the virus is mostly via direct contact with infected materials.
Gypsy Moth Suppression Program – Aerial spraying of two small spray blocks in Camden County, totaling 274 acres, is slated to take place on or about May 4, depending on weather conditions and leaf growth. The gypsy moth suppression efforts will impact residential forested properties in Waterford and Winslow Townships in an effort to protect trees from damage caused by gypsy moth caterpillars, which eat the leaves off of the trees, weakening them. The trees can die from repeated defoliation.
State Food Purchase Program – The final SFPP quarterly payments of Fiscal Year 2011 was distributed the week of April 25 to the six emergency feeding operations. Community Foodbank of New Jersey, the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Mercer Street Friends, Norwescap, the Food Bank of South Jersey and Southern Regional Food Distribution Center received $1,335,600 for a total of $6.8 million for the fiscal year. Governor Christie’s proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2012 contains $6.8 million for the program.
Jersey Grown Wood Birdhouses -- Secretary Fisher and New Jersey Audubon (NJA) announced on April 17 the expansion of the Jersey Grown, Jersey Fresh program to include, for the first time, products made from 100% New Jersey wood. The first products being sold under the “Made with Jersey Grown Wood” label will be birdhouses and birdfeeders produced by NJ Audubon and sold throughout the state of New Jersey. These products have been registered with the NJ Department of Agriculture to carry the Made with Jersey Grown Wood label.
Mini Grants -- The Department and Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Department of Family and Community Health Sciences have chosen nine schools to receive $7,500 mini-grants for programs to help students eat more fruits and vegetables, learn about good nutrition and promote locally grown produce. Recipients of the mini-grants were: Aura Elementary School in Elk Township; Cape May City Elementary School in Cape May; Chesterfield Township Elementary School; Ethel McKnight Elementary School in East Windsor; Francis A. Desmares Elementary School in Flemington; Knowlton Township Elementary School; Mount Prospect Elementary School in Basking Ridge; Queen City Academy Charter School in Plainfield; and Uptown School Complex in Atlantic City. The nine pilot schools must use their mini-grants to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. A school garden will be planted in each of the nine schools and they will be required to grow at least three different vegetables that will be harvested and sampled by students.
FFA Spring Career Development Events -- Almost 200 students from 19 schools from around New Jersey yesterday participated in the 87th Annual New Jersey FFA Spring Career Development Events (CDE) on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The students competed in five areas: Agricultural Mechanics, Agricultural Sales, Environmental and Natural Resources, Floriculture and Nursery and Landscape. Winning teams will advance to the National FFA competition next fall in Indianapolis.
Food Export Seminar -- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Food Export USA-Northeast will present, “Exporting 101; Educational Seminar” on Thursday, May 19 at the Hilton East Brunswick Hotel. The seminar is for individuals or companies who want to get started in food and agricultural exporting, or currently export U.S. food and agricultural products but are not aware of federal export assistance programs or might be eligible for a 50 percent matched funds reimbursement of their export promotion expenses through the “Branded Program.” Dennis Lynch, an export counselor with Food Export USA-Northeast with 30 years of experience in international trade will speak on: How to develop export readiness skills; understanding the harmonized system for import-export purposes; export pricing, quoting and terms of sale; export documentation and logistics; and federal assistance programs available to help U.S. food exporters break into new markets.
HealthierUS School Challenge Award – NJDA Division of Food and Nutrition Director Rose Tricario on March 29 helped USDA Food and Nutrition Service present 11 of the 12 elementary schools in the Old Bridge School District with the HealthierUS School Challenge Award. All schools in the district have attained the Bronze Level of the award, which earned the district $500 per school. Southwood Elementary School was presented with its prize in January. The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary national certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.
Teach Ag Day – Secretary Fisher, Marie Barry of NJ Dept. of Education and federal and state agricultural education officials visited Essex County Vocational Technical Schools West Caldwell campus on March 31 to celebrate Teach Ag Day. They stressed the importance of ag teachers and the great need for students to follow that career path. They also were able to watch a Curriculum in Agricultural Science Education lesson, taught by first-year teacher Tiffany Morey.
Jersey Fresh Availability and Forecast Report – The Department’s weekly reports detailing what Jersey Fresh produce is being harvested and the status of other crops grown by New Jersey farmers have resumed for the season. The reports can be accessed at this link: www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/JFreport.pdf.