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June 24, 2009
Listening Tour/Farm Tour -- Secretary Fisher has been meeting with county boards of agriculture around the state in an effort to learn more about the issues facing farmers in each county.  On June 17, he toured farms in Warren County with the Warren County Board of Agriculture:  RPR Farms in Washington; Donaldson Farms in Hackettstown; GibbsQuest Dairy Farm in Allamuchy; Plainview Growers in Allamuchy; and Liberty Sod Farms.  In addition this month, Secretary Fisher visited county boards in Bergen and Union Counties.  His final Listening Tour stop will be Camden County on July 9.

Food Chain Visits – Secretary Fisher this month visited with representatives of Acme, A & P, Wegmans, Foodtown, Kings and Wakefern, and attended the Eastern Produce Council dinner, to encourage purchases of Jersey Fresh products during this growing season.  He was met with enthusiasm.  At Wegmans of Princeton, he found Jersey Fresh strawberries, asparagus and cut flowers.  Wegmans told the Secretary that they plan to include Jersey Fresh produce in their sales circulars every week all season and are supporting that with Jersey Fresh displays in their New Jersey stores, as well as signage showing the farmers’ photos and locations of the farms that supply the produce.  Foodtown representatives promised to buy only Jersey Fresh quality graded produce from our New Jersey farmers.

Food Bank Meeting and Jersey Fresh Kick-off – Secretary Fisher met with the six state-contracted food banks on June 16 and found that the system is working to ensure there is an adequate flow of food to meet the increased demand seen over the past few months.  Governor Corzine joined Secretary Fisher and United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Mid Atlantic Regional Administrator Yvette Jackson to encourage continued partnerships between the state’s food banks and local farmers to bolster the local economy and New Jersey’s agricultural community.  The state’s six food banks receive the Governor’s Hunger Initiative funding, which requires that those organizations place a priority on purchasing locally produced foods.  Governor Corzine has included approximately $4 million for the Hunger Initiative in the next budget.

School Food Service Equipment Stimulus Grants – Almost 100 New Jersey school districts or individual schools will receive equipment grants to improve their school nutrition programs as part of a nationwide effort to stimulate activity within the American economy.  Ninety-five school districts or schools have been awarded $1,859,763 in grants to purchase, renovate, or replace equipment used in the provision of the National School Lunch Program.  To view the list of grant recipients, visit  Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 signed by President Obama in February, the Food Service Equipment Assistance Grants are designed to improve lunch program infrastructure and provide economic stimulus.  The schools receiving the funds must expend the grant funds within three months of receipt.  The Department will audit those schools to ensure the items were purchased and the funds were used for the granted purposes.

Aquaculture Funds – New Jersey will receive $3,791 in Aquaculture Recovery Funds through the American Recovery and Investment Act.  A formula has been developed to administer the funds.  A form will be distributed to officially certify eligibility and funding amounts with all New Jersey fish farmers and cash payments will be made as soon as possible.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program The Department has chosen 60 schools to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for the 2009-2010 school year.  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.  The 2008-2009 school year was the first year New Jersey participated in the FFVP. The Department provided funding for 33 schools to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to students on a regular basis. The federal Farm Bill, which became law in June of 2008, expanded what had been a pilot program in a few states to include all 50 states. Increased funding has allowed the Department to expand the program so that more school children can benefit next year.  The participating schools come from 18 different counties in New Jersey.  Visit to view a list of the participating schools for 2009-2010.

Gypsy Moth – The aerial defoliation survey has begun to gauge the success of the 2009 suppression program and determine newly infested areas.  Initial results are largely favorable.  This year, a total of 37,493 acres were treated in 55 municipalities and 12 agencies in 15 counties with a single application of Foray 76B (Bacillus thuringiensis).

Advanced Beekeeping Course – On June 11 and 12, Beyond the Basics Advanced Beekeeping Course was held for the first time, with 30 beekeepers in attendance at Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Upper Deerfield.  Secretary Fisher joined the class for the hands-on portion of the day.  The course is the result of many beekeepers in the state requesting more advanced classes to further refine their skills to be better beekeepers. There has been great interest in beekeeping since the Department of Agriculture offered an incentive program in 2006 and again in 2008.  A requirement of receiving startup beekeeping equipment was completion of the Bee-ginners Beekeeping course through Rutgers Office of Continuing Education.  Since 2006, 750 people have taken the course, with 100 of those receiving the free equipment.  Both the beginner’s and more advanced classes are taught by State Apiarist Tim Schuler and Bob Hughes of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association.

Deer Fence Program -- Twenty-four of the 34 eligible applicants were awarded fencing under the limited 2009 Deer Fence Program. The previous maximum award of 5,000 linear feet of fencing and associated materials was reduced to allow more eligible applicants to be awarded some portion of materials. 

Seafood Cook-off -- Secretary Fisher on June 15 sampled the Barnegat Light scallops recipe prepared by chef Peter J. Fischbach at the New Jersey Restaurant Association’s Trenton office during a practice session before Fischbach represents the state in the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans next month.  Fischbach, the executive chef and Food Service Director for Gourmet Dining Services at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark and a Toms River resident, was the winner of the 2008 Jersey Seafood Challenge and went on to represent New Jersey in last year’s Great American Seafood Cook-off, placing 6th out of the 19 competitors.  This year’s Great American Seafood Cook-off is being held July 18 during the Louisiana Foodservice Expo.  Fischbach will travel there with his sous chef Erik Weatherspool, owner/chef of Bistro 44 in Toms River.  The champion will be named King or Queen of American Seafood. 

FFA Convention – Close to 500 FFA members, advisors and guests attended the State FFA Convention to recognize FFA members and chapters for their accomplishments throughout the year and conduct State Association business. Secretary Fisher spoke to the convention during opening night ceremonies.

Outstanding Young Farmer -- Rich Norz, owner of Norz-Hill Farm in Hillsborough, has been named 2010 Outstanding Young Farmer by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture.  Norz, who is 40, will be presented with his award at the 2010 New Jersey Agricultural Convention early next year.  He also will compete for one of the top four National Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) Awards.  Norz is a fourth-generation farmer who owns the family farm in partnership with his father, Richard Norz Sr.