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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
Made With Jersey Fresh – Secretary Fisher attended the Fancy Food Show in NYC on June 27, where the Department had a Jersey Fresh booth and unveiled the Made with Jersey Fresh logo, allowing processed foods to use the Jersey Fresh logo to highlight a New Jersey agricultural product is an ingredient. The logo had been used on a case-by-case basis prior to now. The use of the logo will assist farmers, who will gain in sales from those who want to use Jersey Fresh produce or milk in their processed product or who will be able to add value to their own produce by making their own processed products.
Jersey Fresh Promotion – Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse: All of Charlie Brown’s Steakhouses in New Jersey will be serving Jersey Fresh produce on their salad bars during the state’s growing season, through October. The restaurant chain has 35 restaurants in NJ. They are purchasing produce from five South Jersey farmers and plan to promote their partnership with Jersey Fresh in the media. They plan to make this an annual program. Jersey Fresh Radio Ad: The Department produced a radio advertisement that will run on various stations throughout New Jersey through the beginning of September promoting Jersey Fresh products and Jersey Seafood.
Dairy -- A framework prepared by Department staff to accomplish the goals of bringing stability back to New Jersey’s milk market, as requested by the Director of the Division of Marketing and Development in the May 17, 2010 Determination, was provided to the Director on July 21, 2010. The framework is under review and further information, including possible date(s) for public work session(s) in August will be made available shortly.
Community Farmers Markets – There are 143 community farmers markets in New Jersey, with 11 new markets in Denville, Medford Lakes, Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, Lower Township, Nutley, Old Bridge, Ramsey, Hawthorne, Haledon, Haworth, Kean University/Union Township. Secretary Fisher will commemorate National and State Farmers Market Week on Thursday, July 29 at Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market with Yvette Jackson of USDA Food and Nutrition Service and state, county and local officials.
Federal Farm to School Grant -- The Department, in cooperation with Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, has been awarded $51,215 to create new food items derived from New Jersey agricultural products for use in the National School Lunch Program. United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grant on Thursday as part of more than $1.3 million in matching grants to 18 states, provided under the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP). These grants are focused on developing innovative ways to benefit our agricultural sector. This grant continues the Department’s efforts toward connecting our farmers with schools. The Department and Food Innovation Center will work together to take our farmers’ bounty, develop it into single-serving, innovative items, that meet the nutritional and cost requirements necessary to be utilized in school meals. This project will address the important issue of child nutrition while also improving markets for locally produced agricultural products. We expect to receive the funding this fall and must complete the project by the end of 2011.
Gypsy Moth – The Department’s aerial defoliation survey showed 3,800 acres of trees were damaged throughout the state in all counties but Hudson this spring by gypsy moth caterpillars. Letters have been sent to towns where defoliation was seen, asking if they want to participate in the fall egg mass survey to determine if a spray program is necessary in 2011. The department must continue to be vigilant since populations of gypsy moth are cyclical and can easily increase given the right conditions.
Mile-a-Minute Weevil Release – Staff from the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory conducted the first release of the season of the mile-a-minute weed weevil in Clark, Union County on July 9. Union County Parks personnel had contacted the lab seeking help for the problem with the invasive weed, which is overtaking park property and choking out native plant life. The weed is a trailing vine that grows 6 inches per day. The weevils eat only the mile-a-minute weed and since 2004, 146,000 weevils have been released into 18 New Jersey counties. The problem has begun to diminish in those areas. The Lab is one of the leading, state-of-the-art beneficial insect raising facilities in the nation. Another project the lab is working on with the State Mosquito Control Commission is the raising of a small aquatic crustacean that is a voracious feeder on mosquito larvae, in an effort to reduce mosquito populations and lessen the risk of West Nile Virus.
Bees – State Apiarist Tim Schuler taught the Beyond the Basics of Beekeeping class at Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown. There were 40 students in attendance for the two day class. Topics covered in the class included making colony increases, queen rearing, along with mite identification and control. Class lectures occurred in the morning with hands training during the afternoon. The Beekeeping Advisory group was re-established and met to organize. Grant Stiles was elected Chairman; Bill Kutts was elected Vice Chairman.
Dairy Day Camp Visit – Secretary Fisher visited a dairy farm in Hunterdon County on July 13 where the farmer’s daughters are running a day camp for children 10-13 years of age. The children learned to care for a calf and were able to see the hard work it takes to be a dairy farmer. The oldest daughter, Breanna Fulper, is passionate about agriculture in New Jersey. She is a shining example of the next generation of farmers who will lead the industry in the future.
Summer Food Service Program -- A total of 87 sponsors are participating in the Summer Food Service Program this year. In 2009, there were 95 organizations providing nutritious meals to children during the summer months. Last year, only 11 percent of the 663,000 children participating in the National School Lunch Program had access to these summer meals. The SFSP is a federally funded program designed to ensure that students most in need get healthy daytime meals during the summer.
NJ Sod Used by Philadelphia Eagles -- A 2.5 acre field of Bermuda grass was inspected and certified for a sod grower in Atlantic County. The field had been planted with the Riviera variety of Bermuda grass, traditionally a warm season turf grass. Riviera was developed in Ohio for increased cold tolerance and has been very successful. The grower harvested the two year old field for delivery to the Philadelphia Eagles under a special contract. The grower manages another 2.5 acre field that is one year old and replanted the harvested field with new seed, thereby establishing a continuous yearly supply of mature two year old Bermuda grass sod.
FFA Golf Tournament -- The 9th Annual New Jersey FFA Golf Benefit kicked off with 70 golfers and many sponsors. More than $5,000 was raised to support scholarships, student leadership development programs, and state officer training.