Gypsy Moth Surveying – The 2006 Gypsy Moth Suppression program is wrapping up. Spraying was conducted on more than 20,000 acres in the month of May and aerial surveying of defoliation was conducted in June. The data is now being tabulated. Governor Corzine signed legislation in June that expanded the Department’s budget authority to allow the spending of federal funding for the 2006 program. Secretary Kuperus met with United States Department of Agriculture officials on June 27 asking that they provide adequate resources for next year’s suppression efforts.
Avian Influenza (AI) – An emergency rule has been prepared that would authorize the Department to test birds other than poultry and waterfowl for AI, while also authorizing the testing of animals identified as AI carriers if they share premises with birds. In addition, the Avian Influenza Subcommittee of the New Jersey Domestic Security Task Force met on Thursday, June 22, and reviewed proposed Personal Protective Equipment guidelines for protective gear to be worn by those handling dead birds and testing live birds and animals. The group is developing a PPE training for employees who most likely would be in contact with infected or suspect animals, including those who might not normally perform such duties but might be pressed into that service in event of an outbreak. Finally, the Division of Animal Health is finalizing AI planning documents that address specific approaches should high-path AI be detected in New Jersey.
Asian Longhorned Beetle – Work to remove approximately 50 mature trees infested with the Asian longhorned beetle in an eastern portion of Linden has been completed, bringing the total of infested trees removed from the Middlesex/Union infestation area to 613. At this point, all known infested trees have been removed, all before emergence for this season could be detected, a key goal in preventing further infestation. The most recent trees removed were in an industrial area between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Arthur Kill. Meanwhile, survey work in the expanded quarantine area necessitated by the discovery of an infested tree in northwestern Linden is ongoing. The Division of Plant Industry has been working with officials in Linden and Carteret to address concerns about tree removal and replacement.
Hunger Events – Secretary Kuperus joined Governor Corzine on June 6 for National Hunger Awareness Day events as the Governor promoted his Hunger Initiative in the Fiscal Year 2007 budget. The initiative calls for the spending of $3 million dollars to purchase additional food and $1 million for capital improvements at emergency feeding operations. Corzine and Kuperus helped sort donated food, and assisted Hunterdon High School South FFA members with bagging donated lettuce at Mercer Street Friends’ warehouse in Ewing. They ended the day with an interfaith service at the Community FoodBank in Hillside.
Marketing Report – Eastern Produce Council Dinner: The June meeting of the Eastern Produce Council (EPC) was sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Jersey Fresh. More than 150 EPC members, including produce buyers and executives from major produce companies and retail chain stores throughout the East Cost attended the meeting. Secretary Kuperus discussed the Jersey Fresh marketing and advertising promotion, indicating that this year, a new advertising program was being introduced, featuring individual commodities.
Retailer Visits: Secretary Kuperus and Marketing and Development staff visited with Supermarket executives to promote Jersey Fresh products.
Market Report: The "Jersey Fresh Availability & Forecast Report" continues to update the region’s produce industry, Cooperative Extension staff, Department personnel, restaurateurs, Jersey Fresh licensed growers, and food media communicators on the current and future availability of Jersey Fresh produce. The report indicates the general quality and quantity of produce available in the marketplace.
Jersey Fresh Three Day Event: The Horse Park of NJ and the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board presented the 2006 Jersey Fresh CCI**/CCI** and the New Jersey Equine Expo to kick off Month of the Horse activities in the Garden State. Despite a rainy Saturday, the entire event was a huge success with over 7,500 in attendance and an economic impact to the local area of $4.1 million dollars.
Agricultural Fairs: The summer fair season begins the 1st of July with the Mercer County 4-H fair and runs thru late August.
Transfer of Development Rights --Secretary Kuperus on June 23 made the first in a series of check presentations to highlight the benefits of towns utilizing Transfer of Development Rights, which allows towns and counties to target development away from farmland and open space to higher density development areas. A check for $20,000 was presented to Ocean Township, Ocean County, Mayor Dan Van Pelt at a press event at the Waretown Lake and Recreation Area. The check is the first installment in a $40,000 planning assistance grant awarded by the State Transfer of Development Rights Bank Board to help the town conduct the planning necessary to implement a successful transfer of development rights program.
Sussex County Farmland Preservation Milestone – Sussex County surpassed the 10,000-acre mark in farmland preservation on May 26 with the preservation of the 84-acre Roof Farm in Stillwater. Seventy-three farms in 13 towns — Stillwater, Hampton, Fredon, Frankford, Andover Township, Wantage, Green, Hardyston, Vernon, Lafayette, Sandyston, Sparta and Montague — have been preserved since the program started 17 years ago.
Farmland Preservation Appropriation Legislation –A package of farmland preservation appropriation bills have been approved by the State Legislature and await the Governor’s signature. The measures would provide a total of $91 million for the county easement purchase and state acquisitions programs and for farmland preservation in the Highlands region. The bills also would provide funding for the soil and water conservation cost-share program by reappropriating $341,275 in interest earnings from 1989, 1992 and 1995 open space bond funds. The soil and water conservation cost-share program provides up to 50-percent grants to landowners to undertake a variety of projects to protect soil and water resources and maximize agricultural productivity. In addition, the Garden State Preservation Trust approved an additional $28.115 million for two other farmland preservation programs -- the planning incentive grant and nonprofit programs -- at its meeting on June 13th. Additional appropriations bills for these funds have been drafted for introduction.
Deer Fencing Program – Sixty-four farmers applied for the 2006 Deer Fencing program. Currently, applications are under review. One mandatory training session will be held at a date and location to be determined in the near future. It is anticipated that fencing and related material will be delivered between mid-July and mid-August.
Rutgers University New Professor Tour -- Secretary Kuperus and a group of Rutgers University professors toured a cutting edge Morris County farm operation that utilizes many practices the Department of Agriculture advocates to ensure the viability of the agriculture industry into the future. The new professors who are tenured or on tenure tracks and are new to the state or the country stopped at Valley Shepherd Creamery on May 25 as part of their Rutgers New Faculty Traveling Seminar 2006 to learn more about New Jersey agriculture and the unique and innovative projects that allow producers to benefit from marketing opportunities in the Garden State.
Legislators Tour– A tour of Burlington County agriculture sites has been planned for Thursday, July 27. The tour, sponsored by the New Jersey Agricultural Society, the Department of Agriculture and New Jersey Farm Bureau, will stop at Rutgers EcoComplex, Robson’s Farm and Market, Indian Mills Nursery, Durr Wholesale Florist, Peticote Vet Clinic and Farm, and Joseph J. White Cranberry Farm.
New Board member – We welcome to the State Board of Agriculture new member David T. Sheppard Jr., a vegetable farmer from Cedarville, who will fill an unexpired term on the Board.
Eisner Retirement– After nearly three decades, Dr. Robert Eisner, who has been committed to the success of the NJDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, is retiring. We wish him well and commend him for his exemplary work and expertise over the years.