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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
June 22, 2011
Online NJDA Agricultural Photo Database – On June 15, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Secretary Fisher visited Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell Township to unveil an online data and image bank describing more than 7,000 vintage photographs produced by the Department of Agriculture to document farming in New Jersey from the late 19th century through the 1970s. Of these, more than 2,000 photos have been scanned and are now publicly viewable in the image bank at www.njarchives.org/links/agphotos.html. In 1984, the State Archives acquired a vast collection of historical photographs from the Department of Agriculture, originating as a public information photo file soon after the Department was created in 1916. The images were used for publication in bulletins and reports, press releases and simply to document agriculture and related industries in New Jersey.
Jersey Seafood Challenge – First Lady Mary Pat Christie will host the Jersey Seafood Challenge, a seafood cooking competition for professional chefs in New Jersey on June 30 at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s Mansion in Princeton. Contestants must showcase their culinary skills by preparing their signature dish focusing on Jersey Seafood and Jersey Fresh produce. The Jersey Seafood Challenge champion will represent the state in the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans on August 6, 2011.
Floriculture Survey – Secretary Fisher and Dominic Mondi of the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association visited Timothy’s Center for Gardening in Robbinsville on May 27 to announce the value of New Jersey’s floriculture crops was $178 million last year, up 7 percent from 2009. They urged consumers to head to a nursery or garden center to buy plants for the season on Memorial Day weekend. Floriculture crops include bedding plants, such as flowering annuals, and also cut flowers, chrysanthemums, hostas, lilies, poinsettias and foliage plants. The survey showed that New Jersey ranked eighth in the nation in expanded wholesale value of floriculture crops, just behind neighboring New York, but outpacing Pennsylvania and Maryland. Bedding and garden plants sales were $110.5 million, an increase of 3 percent from a year earlier. New Jersey also had $12.4 million in cut flower sales, up from $11.4 million in 2009.
Stink Bug – The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee took testimony June 16 from academics and farmers on the problem of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. This bug has no known natural predators here in New Jersey. State fruit famers are seeing considerable damage to their crops. Carl Schulze, Director of the Division of Plant Industry, said the Department of Agriculture’s Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory has established a laboratory colony of the stink bug, and is in regular contact with USDA scientists who are researching potential biological control agents - natural parasites - that could be raised at the Laboratory and released to help control the stink bug. The lab is well positioned to raise these natural parasites once initial studies are completed, and after the beneficial insects (parasitoids) are determined not to be a threat to other non-target insect species and safe for release in the environment. If successful, the beneficial insects should be an important component in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, developed by the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Pest Management Program to assist commercial and organic growers, as well as backyard gardeners throughout New Jersey.
Healthier US School Challenge Award Presentation – Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario joined USDA Food and Nutrition Service officials at Manchester Township Elementary School on June 7 to present the township’s three elementary schools with the Healthier US School Challenge Award. The schools are the first in the state to attain the silver level of the award and will receive $1,000 each to use to enhance their nutrition efforts.
Month of the Horse – The Department celebrated June as the Month of the Horse by presenting a proclamation to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation in Hamilton Township on June 3. The SRF was founded in 1989 to care for, rehabilitate and secure lifetime adoption of non-competitive racehorses. The SRF also combines the needs of youth at risk with these horses in therapeutic equine programs to benefit both the horse and the youth. The SRF has successfully facilitated more than 2,300 adoptions of former harness race horses, including providing the Newark Police Department with 12 horses for their mounted police and a horse for the Connecticut Governor’s Color Guard. The organization is currently caring for 175 horses, but there is a waiting list for horses entering the program. The state’s equine industry is valued at $4 billion and generates $1.1 billion annually in positive impact to the state’s economy. A Rutgers Equine Science Center study showed there are 7,200 equine facilities on 176,000 acres and 42,500 equine animals in New Jersey.
Conventions Merger -- Two of New Jersey agriculture’s most influential annual gatherings are joining forces for the first time in January 2012 to create a formidable showcase of the Garden State’s agrarian advances. The Department and the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey (VGANJ) jointly announced June 6 that they will merge their respective conventions into one massive convention/trade show. While both groups will conduct separate programs, the combined convention will appeal to New Jersey’s diverse agricultural industry by promoting greater participation and interaction among a wider cross-section of industry members from all sectors. The convention/trade show is slated for the week of January 16, 2012 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.
Emerald Ash Borer Traps – More than 500 traps were deployed for the 2011 Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) grid survey. So far, no suspect insects have been collected. Emerald Ash Borer emergence is expected to have already occurred throughout New Jersey. Lure changes and trap inspection have begun in several counties. Suspect insects will be delivered to the plant laboratory where entomologists will screen for EAB. Lure changes will continue throughout the month of June and traps will be taken down in August.
State FFA Convention – More than 500 FFA members, advisors and guests attended the State FFA Convention the last week in May to recognize FFA members and chapters for their accomplishments throughout the year and conduct State Association business. Secretary Fisher addressed the group, outlining the many accomplishments in the past year for FFA and agricultural education. Thirty-six FFA members received their State Degrees. Forty-six members received new FFA jackets through a special project of the New Jersey FFA Foundation. Eighty-four judges representing the NJDA, USDA, NJDOE, FFA Alumni, past state officers and agricultural industries evaluated members competing in career development events. The conclusion of the convention saw the election of the 2011-12 State FFA Officer Team. Alec McAlarnen of the Cape May Tech FFA Chapter will lead the team as the new state president. Alec served as last year’s state secretary.
Jersey Fresh Availability and Forecast Report -- The seasonal "Jersey Fresh Availability & Forecast Report" continues to update the regions produce industry, Cooperative Extension staff, government personnel, restaurateurs, Jersey Fresh licensed growers, food media communicators, school food service, and food banks on the current and future availability of Jersey Fresh produce. The report is available on the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov and is updated weekly.