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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
September 24, 2008Disaster Declaration -- United States Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer has designated 10 New Jersey counties as natural disaster areas, following hail storms, drought, heat and other severe weather conditions that led to crop losses during the 2008 growing season. On August 13, three days after hail storms damaged crops in Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, Atlantic and Camden counties, Governor Jon S. Corzine requested the disaster designation, saying New Jersey farmers had experienced substantial agricultural production losses to important crops. The New Jersey Congressional Delegation sent letters of support for Corzine’s request to Secretary Schafer. Secretary Schafer designated Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem counties as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by the combined effects of high winds, excessive rain, flash floods and hail that occurred from May 12 through August 10, 2008; and also because of losses caused by drought and high temperatures that occurred during the period of June 10, 2008, and continuing. Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset counties were designated as contiguous disaster counties. The Secretarial Disaster Designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties who suffered 30 percent or more on losses directly due to the harsh weather eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from Farm Services Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. The 2008 Farm Bill also could offer direct disaster aid. Additional information is also available online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov or www.nj.gov/agriculture/grants/disaster.html.
Affordable Housing -- Following Secretary Kuperus' meeting with Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Doria in late August, the DCA has determined that the new 2.5 percent Non-Residential Development Fee does not apply to commercial farm buildings, which are not categorized as a use group under the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and does not apply to agricultural structures under the Use Group "U" of the UCC. The DCA has updated the “Non-Residential Development Fee” form to reflect this interpretation.
Gypsy Moth– Following three consecutive years of gypsy moth caterpillar defoliation, a tree mortality survey conducted by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Forestry observed a total of 30,902 acres of total trees had died in 2007 and 2008. Burlington and Ocean Counties experienced the largest number of tree deaths, mostly on federal and state forested lands. A total of 127 towns have requested egg mass surveys for the 2009 aerial suppression program. Those surveys are underway and will continue through the end of the year.
Storm Preparedness– As tropical storm Hanna made its way up the east coast, New Jersey Department of Agriculture personnel prepared for the possibility of its impact on the state’s agricultural industry and to ready stores of commodities if needed to feed displaced persons in shelters. They joined other first responder agencies at the state emergency management center on September 6 and continued to monitor the storm through the late evening, when the incident was declared closed. The state suffered very little damage in the storm and it was viewed as a good exercise in emergency preparedness, planning, mitigation and response.
Highlands-- The Governor approved the Highlands Regional Master Plan on September 5 and signed an Executive Order that added additional measures to the Plan. The Executive Order called for the reauthorization of the Garden State Preservation Trust and consideration of a statewide TDR program to meet the agricultural preservation and open space needs of the Highlands region. In addition, he called for a reasonable extension of the requirement for dual appraisals for agriculture preservation and open space acquisitions beyond the June 30, 2009 time period set forth in the Highlands Act. To view the details of the order, visit www.nj.gov/infobank/circular/eojsc114.htm.
Legislators’ Farm Tour – Eleven legislators joined Secretary Kuperus, the New Jersey Agricultural Society, New Jersey Farm Bureau, Rutgers and Department staff on a tour of innovative farms in Salem and Gloucester Counties on Wednesday, September 10. The lawmakers included: Assembly Speaker Roberts, Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Greenwald, Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Fisher, Assemblywomen Karrow, McHose and Love and Assemblymen Amodeo, Burzichelli and Giblin. They visited Quality Koi Farm, Sun Valley Orchards, Gloucester County Dream Park and Heritage Station Winery, where they were joined by Governor Corzine. Speaker Roberts said his goal is to encourage more legislators to attend the annual farm tour each year so they can see first-hand the importance of sustaining agriculture in New Jersey.
Equine Sales Tax Document -- To educate New Jersey’s equine industry, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has prepared the document “Horse-Keeping Businesses and New Jersey Sales and Use Tax.” The document was developed in cooperation with and approved by the New Jersey Division of Taxation and can be downloaded from the Department’s website under “Publications, “For Farmers” at www.nj.gov/agriculture.
Agricultural Education Scholarship– The New Jersey FFA Foundation and the New Jersey Education Association have launched a new scholarship available to FFA members to pay for college costs. The Roszel Scholarship honors Jacque and Cyndee Roszel, who taught agricultural education at Allentown High School for 64 combined years. They retired at the end of the 2007-2008 school year. Over the course of their careers, they made a positive difference in the lives of more than 5,000 students. To donate to the scholarship fund, visit www.jerseyageducation.nj.gov/agriculture/ag_ed/ffa/partners/Roszel%20Scholarship.pdf. There are a wide range of scholarships available to FFA members and those students interested in studying agricultural education in college. To learn more, visit www.jerseyageducation.nj.gov/agriculture/ag_ed/ffa/scholarships.
JerseyFresh Exhibit – To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Jersey Fresh program during the 2009 farm marketing season, the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture will present an exhibit, featuring photographs, advertisements and point of purchase materials from the brand’s history. The grand opening is scheduled for Friday, October 24. New Jersey agriculture industry officials have been invited to attend, as well as each of the former governors that were involved with Jersey Fresh promotions throughout the past quarter century.
Nominations Sought for 2010 Outstanding Young Farmer -- To be eligible for nomination a farmer (male or female) must meet the following requirements: be a farm operator, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of his or her income from farming and be between the ages of 21-39, not turning 41 prior to January 1, 2010. The submission deadline is January 15, 2009. Any questions should be directed to Karen Kritz, NJ OYF Program Manager. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba/cover.html.
Marketing Report– Jersey Fresh Availability Report: The weekly Jersey Fresh Availability and Forecast Reports will continue to update food writers, industry and consumers throughout the fall.
Advertising: Radio advertisements for Jersey Fresh, Jersey Grown and Jersey Seafood ran throughout the summer, with the final ad airing on September 12. In previous years, the Department ran both television and radio ads through September, ending the first week in October. It is anticipated that the budget will allow for only limited advertising in May and June of 2009.