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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
May 22, 2013
Jersey Fresh Kick-off Farm Tour – Secretary Fisher visited farms in Cumberland and Gloucester counties on May 21 to highlight the start of the Jersey Fresh growing season. Stops included Dooley Farms and A. Pagnini Farms in Vineland and Dan Graiff Farms in Newfield. The goal of the tour was to remind people to look for Jersey Fresh produce in state supermarkets, farm stands and restaurants and to go to farmers markets and support our state’s farmers. He also highlighted the new “Another Great Season” ad campaign and the revamped Jersey Fresh website.
Specialty Crop Block Grants -- In the May 9, 2013 Federal Register the USDA announced the current Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) funding allocations with New Jersey’s allocation at $770,362. This represents a 5.1 percent reduction from the 2012 allocation. Twenty-two grant applications requesting a total of $ 1,067,978 in SCBG funds were received as of the NJDA application deadline on April 30. The requests are now before the State Board of Agriculture for consideration.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – There will be 144 New Jersey Schools participating in the 2013-2014 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The United States Department of Agriculture has allocated $3,934,586 for New Jersey for next school year’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides fresh produce to students during the school day, along with nutrition education. The goal of the program is to expose children to healthy foods, increase their fruit and vegetable consumption and set them on the road to improved lifelong dietary habits. Starting in September, the selected schools located in 14 New Jersey counties with almost 76,000 students, will begin to offer fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis free to students each week. To see the list of next school year’s participating schools, go to www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/pdf/13-14ffvpschools.pdf
Farmers Against Hunger Gleaning -- Secretary Fisher participated in Farmers Against Hunger’s first gleaning of the season on May 2, picking collard greens along with a group of volunteers at Specca Farms in Springfield Township, Burlington County. Secretary Fisher then continued on to Holy Cross Church of Christ in Trenton where the just-picked produce was delivered for distribution to those in need. Farmers Against Hunger (FAH) received a $100,000 Gleaning Support Grant through the Department of Agriculture’s State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) to collect, distribute and administer its program. Farmers Against Hunger serves 7,000 people weekly during the growing season through 70 organizations, including soup kitchens, food pantries and the state’s food banks. Farmers from all over the state participate by donating their surplus produce or allowing volunteers to come onto their farms and glean – or pick -- excess produce. In 2012, FAH received almost 1.2 million pounds of fruits and vegetables from farmers, food retailers and distributors. Specca Farms has been involved with Farmers Against Hunger since the early 2000’s.
Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event – Secretary Fisher welcomed 89 horse/rider competitors from six nations to the Jersey Fresh International Three Day Event The Horse Park of New Jersey on May 10. Jessic Phoenix (CAN) was the winner of the CCI3*. More than 5,000 spectators visited the Park over the four days of competition which also included the New Jersey Equine Expo, 4-H drill teams, and a jousting demonstration. A video of the Secretary Fisher’s visit can be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhiZF10IWD8&feature=youtu.be.
New Jersey Envirothon -- For the fourth year in a row, a team of high school students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences (MATES) in Manahawkin was the winner of the 20th annual New Jersey Envirothon, held Saturday, May 4 at Girl Scout Camp Kettle Run in Medford. The team, consisting of Emily Golembiski of Little Egg Harbor, Jillian Hubbard of Toms River, Gillian Schriever of West Creek, Michael Signorelli of Toms River and Megan Tumpey of Brick, will represent New Jersey in the 2013 North American Envirothon at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana in August. The Ocean County students competed against 33 other teams on knowledge of natural resources-related topics, including soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife ecology and a current environmental issue. Each of the MATES team members received $1,000 scholarships from the New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts, $2,000 scholarships from Richard Stockton State College and $1,000 scholarships from Applied and Health Sciences at Kean University.
Eat Right, Move More Visits – The Department completed the current school year’s Eat Right, Move More New York Jets’ visits on May 1 with quarterback Greg McElroy, presenting programs at Midstreams School in Brick Township and the George L. Hess Educational Complex in Hamilton Township. The program is a partnership between the Department of Agriculture, the New York Jets and the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign, which encourages New Jersey school children to take advantage of healthy foods in their school cafeterias and become more active. This year, the emphasis was on schools that offer breakfast in the classroom.
Healthier US School Challenge Award Ceremony -- United States Department of Agriculture and New Jersey Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition officials presented Cedar Drive Middle, Conover Road Elementary and Conover Road Primary Schools in Colts Neck with the Healthier US School Challenge Award on May 3, which recognizes schools that promote good nutrition and physical activity. All three schools attained the Bronze Level of the award, which carries a $500 prize. The schools were presented with banners and certificates for their achievements.
Equine Herpes Virus Quarantine -- A Morris County premises was placed under quarantine after a resident horse was exposed to an Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM)-positive horse while being transported in the same trailer. The New Jersey horse was not showing clinical signs of EHM. The positive horse, located in New York State, was present at a Cranbury, NJ horse auction on May 1. Forty eight horses, from 14 different states including New Jersey, were potentially exposed to the positive horse while at the auction. Veterinary authorities from these various states were apprised of the situation for appropriate action. EHM is caused by Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). EHV-1 virus can spread 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 mare.
FFA Convention – The 84th Annual State FFA Convention is being held at Rutgers University in New Brunswick May 21-23. Secretary Fisher opened the New Jersey FFA’s annual convention in New Brunswick on Tuesday, May 21 with a message to the future leaders of the state’s agriculture industry to always reach higher and accomplish great things. More than 400 students, advisors and staff are expected to attend the convention at Rutgers University which has a theme of “Soaring to New Heights.” Over the course of the three days, a number of additional awards, grants and scholarships will be announced.
NJDA Awards Grants for Agricultural Education Training -- CASE (Curriculum in Agricultural Science Education) program grants were awarded to Essex County Technical School, Penns Grove High School, North Warren Regional High School, Salem County Technical School, Allentown High School, Woodstown High School, Middlesex County Technical School, Northern Burlington Regional High School, Ocean County Technical School, and Phillipsburg High School for teacher professional development fees, equipment and supply purchases. The grants will support the following CASE courses: Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Principles in Agricultural Science – Plant; Principles in Agricultural Science – Animal; Animal and Plant Biotechnology; and the field test for Natural Resources and Ecology.