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September 27, 2006
Spinach – The Department worked with federal and state lawmakers last week who were helpful in lobbying the Food and Drug Administration to amend its recommendations against eating raw spinach, in light of an investigation of E. coli tainted spinach in California.  Nationwide, one person died and 175 people were sickened from eating the California spinach.   The Department worked with the lawmakers, New Jersey Farm Bureau, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency to hold a grower meeting in Vineland on September 21, which was attended by 25-30 farmers.  There, the Department announced it would aggressively work to re-establish the market for fresh New Jersey spinach. This will include a radio campaign and a modification of the Jersey Fresh spinach print ads that already were scheduled to run during the spinach harvest season.  The print ads, which will run shortly in four major newspapers throughout the state, will now underscore the fact that fresh New Jersey spinach was never suspected of being a source of the contamination and that our quality grading program helps to protect against such incidents.  In addition, the Department is working with the New Jersey Food Council to feature reprints of the newspapers ads in the produce sections of retailers throughout the state.  The radio campaign is two-pronged with a 30-second public service announcement being offered to stations throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York and a 60-second paid commercial running over several days on New Jersey 101.5.  Moving forward, we are urging the Congressional delegation to consider whether a special appropriation through Farm Service Agency is needed to help growers who suffer a hardship brought on by a true market emergency related to the FDA advisory. This will depend on how well the market responds to the reintroduction of spinach from areas outside the three counties in California’s Salinas Valley.

West Nile Virus/Eastern Equine Encephalitis – This month, the death of a 6-year-old mare in Burlington County was attributed to Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and the death of a 14-year-old mare in Middlesex County was caused by West Nile virus.  These are the first two deaths to occur from these equine illnesses this year.  Both horses were not vaccinated for the mosquito-borne infections they succumbed to. There were no cases of West Nile virus in horses and four cases of EEE in 2005.  That is compared with six cases each of West Nile virus and EEE in 2004.  One horse had both diseases that year.    In 2003, there were 150 cases of West Nile virus and eight cases of EEE.

TDR Summit – Nearly 100 municipal representatives and others interested in learning more about transfer of development rights (TDR) attended a day-long summit on September 22nd at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Mansfield Township. "TDR: An Up-Close Tour for Agricultural Communities," was sponsored by the State Agriculture Development Committee and provided a unique opportunity to hear first-hand from local officials, planners, a developer and other key individuals involved in carrying out TDR across the state. The summit, which included a bus tour of Chesterfield Township's sending and receiving areas, was geared toward showing agricultural communities how TDR can preserve farmland while providing for growth in other areas that can best accommodate it. 

Corn Maze Regulations – On May 1, 2006 the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs adopted new regulations governing outdoor mazes.   For details, visit:

Marketing ReportAward: The New Jersey Department of Agriculture received the 2006 Produce Business Marketing Excellence Award for its Jersey Fresh campaign, an outstanding effort in marketing to the produce industry.  Produce Business magazine is a national publication. 

Country of Origin for Fish and Shellfish:
The Department entered into a cooperative agreement with United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Services for the purpose of conducting surveillance audits to ensure compliance with the country of origin (COOL) labeling provisions for fish and shellfish.

Small Farms Expo: Market Development staff, along with staff from the Division of Plant Industry, exhibited at the Small Farm Exposition, reaching landowners interested in entering into farming, but who were seeking valuable advice and direction.

Good Government Breakfast: Market Development staff promoted Jersey Fresh at the New Jersey Food Council’s Good Government Breakfast, reaching many of the states legislators and leaders with the Jersey Fresh message.

Where to Find Apples Brochures: Ten thousand ‘Where to Find NJ Apples’ brochures were reprinted and distributed to county agricultural agents through Rutgers University’s distribution center, sent to welcome centers throughout the state and sent out by consumer request.

Battleship New Jersey ‘Jersey Fresh’ Event: Staff attended the Battleship New Jersey event “Celebration of Jersey Fresh”, in Camden on September 23rd.  The event was part of the festivities that are being held in conjunction with the Farm Aid concert, which will be held in Camden on September 30.

Horse Summit -- Secretary Kuperus spoke at the New Jersey Horse Industry Symposium at Monmouth Park racetrack September 20, during which representatives of every sector of the state’s horse industry as well as legislative leaders came together to help develop solutions for the future of the this important agricultural sector. 

Agritourism Study – The yearlong agritourism study is complete and will be released at a press event at Wightman’s Farms in Morristown on October 5. 

Value-Added Grants -- Four New Jersey producers were awarded $94,750 in USDA Rural Development Value-added Grants in September – Sheppard Farms, John W. Bradway, Sr., Central-Valley Farms, Joseph J. White, Inc.   Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for planning activities, such as feasibility studies or business plans, or to provide working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value-added products are created when a producer takes an agricultural commodity, like milk or vegetables, and processes or prepares it in a way that increases value to consumers.  Value added grants are a key tool in implementing the Department’s economic development strategies.

New FFA Chapter -- The state’s 37th FFA chapter was chartered September 13 at Biotechnology high school in Freehold.  Secretary Kuperus, acting Commissioner of Education Lucille E. Davy, and Dr. Larry Case, National FFA Advisor and Program Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Education, attended the event.  Agricultural biotechnology education is an integral part of the curriculum at Biotechnology High School, which opened its doors to the first students in 2005.  Students receive extensive exposure to research and lab skills, ethical decision-making, critical thinking, problem solving and information technology.  In the past three years, five FFA chapters have been chartered in New Jersey:  Delsea Regional High School, Franklinville; South Hunterdon Middle School, Lambertville; Bergen County Technical High School, Paramus; Northern Burlington Middle School, Columbus; and Bankbridge Regional School, Sewell.  In total, New Jersey has 37 FFA chapters and 1,684 students.

Outstanding Young Farmer -- The Department is now accepting applications for the 2008 Outstanding Young Farmer.  The submission deadline for nominations is January 15, 2007.  The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of a young Garden State farmer who is an upstanding leader, respected agriculturalist and is active in community or church organizations. The Official State Nomination Form can be accessed on the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s web site at