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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
May 26, 2010
Dairy – The Dairy Hearing Determination paper that resulted from a hearing on issues concerning the state’s dairy industry that began on November 19, 2009 and closed on April 26, was submitted to the Secretary of State’s office on May 17.
Expanding Markets for Farmers – The Department has been working to connect farmers to restaurants and chefs. On May 11, Secretary Fisher toured the Trenton Farmers Market with the General Manager and Executive Chef from the Trenton Marriott to highlight that with more than 120 community farmers markets beginning to open for the season around the state, Jersey Fresh produce is readily available for all restaurants that are interested in serving our locally grown fruits and vegetables. In June, the Department will announce a new alliance with Somerset Medical Center to promote Jersey Fresh.
Jersey Fresh Reports -- The Department is now offering a weekly look at what Jersey Fresh produce is available and what will soon be available on the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov. The report is updated every week and will be posted on the Department’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/NJDeptofAgriculture, as well.
Romaine Lettuce – The Department swiftly took action to inform the public that fresh Romaine lettuce from New Jersey was not included in a recall of chopped, bagged Romaine by Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, due to the product’s connection to an E.coli outbreak in three states. The Department issued a press release and informed agricultural organizations that New Jersey grown lettuce was safe to eat. New Jersey’s Romaine had not yet entered the marketplace when the first illnesses were reported.
2010-11 School Food Service Equipment Grants -- New Jersey has been awarded $463,000 to distribute to schools for grants to purchase, renovate or replace kitchen equipment used to prepare school meals. More than 100 schools have been contacted about their eligibility for the program. Grants will be awarded to schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and have 50 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced priced meals. Schools that received the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act food service equipment grants are not eligible to apply for the current grants. Applicants must submit their applications to the Department by May 28, 2010 in order to be considered for the grant. Schools will be notified by June 15, 2010.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program -- More students will be able to sample fresh produce in New Jersey schools next school year, due to an expansion of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. One hundred and one schools in 17 counties have been chosen to participate in the program for the 2010-2011 school year. During the current year, 60 schools are operating the program. Increased funding has allowed the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to expand the program so that more school children can benefit next year. The USDA has allocated $2,530,957 for the 101 schools. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) exposes school children to new, healthier foods and increases their fruit and vegetable consumption, ultimately leading to improved lifelong dietary habits.
Eat Right, Move More Visits – The final two winning schools in the 2009-2010 Eat Right, Move More program with the NY Jets and the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign received visits from Jets players in May. Tight End Ben Hartsock talked to students of Cold Springs School in Gloucester City about the importance of having a healthy diet and staying active on May 12. On May 19, Linebacker Kenwin Cummings and Wide Receiver Marcus Henry visited Old Turnpike School in Tewksbury. The Eat Right, Move More program encourages New Jersey school children to take advantage of healthy foods in their school cafeterias and become more active. This year, schools had to show strong support and use of locally-grown products in their school meal menus, as well as demonstrate efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity among their students. Four other schools received Jets player visits. The grand prize-winning school, Harrison High school, also received a $5,000 school cafeteria makeover grant and sent representatives to a Jets game to be honored.
PA Agribusiness Tour – Secretary Fisher and members of the State Board of Agriculture met with PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding on Thursday, April 29 to share ideas and work toward strengthening agriculture in the two states. Secretary Redding joined the group on a tour of agri-businesses in Lancaster County. They visited Kreider Dairy Farms; Case New Holland, a farm machinery manufacturing plant; and Hoober, Inc., a farm equipment dealer, service, repair and hauling business.
Nuclear Plume Exercise – Agriculture had a very prominent role in the exercise, held on Thursday, May 20, with a FEMA monitor specifically dedicated to observing NJDA’s response. FEMA had high praise for the actual and simulated interplay between our personnel at the ROIC and those at NASS, county extension agents, NJDHSS and others involved in agriculture and state government. The Department’s dedicated monitor had many good things to say throughout the exercise about our network established to get messages out to farmers and the public. In his comments following the exercise, he remarked that the Department showed much dedication to watching out for our ag constituents’ interests.
Envirothon – Secretary Fisher and Senate President Steve Sweeney attended the New Jersey Envirothon on May 8 as a team of five students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences in Manahawkin won the natural resources/science competition, held in Newfield, Gloucester County. The MATES team will represent New Jersey in the 2010 Canon Envirothon at California State University in Fresno in August. The team competed against 46 other high school teams on knowledge of natural resources-related topics, including soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife ecology and a current environmental issue.
Animal Health Diagnostic Lab -- The lab has successfully met the criteria and requirements to become a provisionally approved member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) until April 2011. This approval allows the lab to receive federal funding and perform Avian Influenza, New Castle Disease, Classical Swine Fever, Foot and Mouth Disease, Swine Influenza, and Pseudorabies testing.
Agricultural Education Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies -- Secretary Fisher visited Monmouth County Career Center in Freehold and Camden County Technical School in Pennsauken on May 13 to participate in ceremonies to celebrate the grand opening of two agriculture science education facilities - Monmouth County FFA Links Golf hole, designed and built by students incorporating math and science skills into their education and learning and Camden County Technical School, Pennsauken's Horticulture and Science Center, which includes a state of the art greenhouse and class/lab facility with the latest technology.
WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program – More than 120 community farmers markets are expected to be operating in New Jersey this year and market development staff is working with the Department of Health and Senior Services in recruiting farmers as Certified Farmer Vendors in the WIC & Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program. By the end of May, there will be 236 farmers certified to accept the WIC & senior checks.