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WHEREAS, New Jersey farmers and fishermen face many issues – including increased costs for labor, fuel, energy and other inputs – that negatively impact their industries’ net income potential; and

WHEREAS, the actions of other state agencies have the potential to further negatively impact the bottom line of New Jersey farmers and fishermen; and

WHEREAS, dwindling profitability is a reality for many sectors of these industries and makes it less appealing for individuals to start or continue agricultural or seafood businesses, discouraging people interested in exploring careers in these industries and investing in the land and assets associated with them; and

WHEREAS, development pressure to consume undeveloped agricultural land has resulted not only in the loss of the agricultural land and assets, but contributes to overcrowding and strain on existing municipal resources; and

WHEREAS, the steady decline in ag-related industries, and the loss of land and assets associated with them, has a proven negative impact on the quality of life for all New Jersey residents; and

WHEREAS, the future of New Jersey’s agricultural industry relies not only on its current members but also in the recruitment of new and young farmers into the industry; and

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has begun implementing an Agricultural Development Initiative to bolster the economic prospects of agricultural producers in all sectors; and

WHEREAS, the Agricultural Development Initiative includes proposals that would:

- Create an “agricultural innovation fund” that could be used for the marketing and development of the food and agricultural industry to ensure that it survives and grows in the rapidly changing marketplace, with participation in the fund tied to a commitment to continuing agricultural operations.
- Promote green energy. The Department seeks to promote and facilitate the use of the Board of Public Utility’s clean energy resources, as well as to encourage the expansion of the marketplace for fuel alternatives. Incentives such as tax exemptions and technical assistance in implementation will result in increased use of green energy technology. Producers also would be encouraged to become part of the production process of green fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel, biomass..
- Create labor resources, including training for producers, managers and workers. By promoting the use of existing labor resources and creating new labor resource opportunities for the farm industry, productivity of employees will improve while maintaining a manageable bottom line.
- Strengthen New Jersey brands. In order to administer the Department’s various promotional programs, such as Jersey Fresh, Jersey Grown and Jersey Seafood and others, and to compete with the “Locally Grown” branding and promotions from other states, the Jersey Fresh marketing and advertising budget must be restored to $1.26 million. This would allow advertising in all targeted media forms, as well as allowing the message to once again air on television and radio stations throughout the Eastern Seaboard and Eastern Canada, two vital marketing regions dropped from ad campaigns in recent years due to decreased budgets. The increase also would bring a much-needed boost to the Jersey Fresh Matching Grants budget, which funds agricultural organizations in their promotional efforts.
- Implement the economic development strategies for fishing and aquaculture and hold regular meetings with all commodity groups to update the relevant economic development strategies as necessary and discuss implementation.
- Develop and continually revise a series of Right to Farm AMPs that encourage, support and protect agricultural innovations and provide the agricultural community with exemptions to laws or regulations that fail to consider the unique realities of commercial agricultural management and thereby unduly harm the producer’s bottom line.
- Influence legislative and regulatory initiatives dealing with issues such as sales taxes, income averaging and other issues that directly impact the producer’s bottom line.

, that we, the Delegates to the 2006 New Jersey Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 7, 2006, support the Agricultural Development Initiative as presented by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and respectfully urge the Governor and Legislature to work with the Department to further implement the components of that Initiative.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and state Legislature to provide funding for educational and incentive programs designed to encourage potential future farmers or farm industry entrepreneurs to join the industry.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Department to work toward these goals in cooperation with partners such as Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension, the USDA, New Jersey Farm Bureau, leading agricultural organizations and commodity groups to build an agricultural development initiative acceptable to all.