New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
WHEREAS, allied industries, such as food processing, also face major constraints including regulatory and permitting challenges, a poorly skilled workforce, limited access to technology and business/marketing expertise. These constraints impinge upon assuring food security, nutrition and health, water quality and supply, environmental sustainability, economic development and quality of life in the Garden State;
WHEREAS, the impacts and public benefits of the agricultural and food system complex, not only in rural areas but also in urban and suburban communities as well, its viability and sustainability are of critical importance to the entire community of our state;
WHEREAS, the land grant mission, to meet the needs of the underserved through research, extension and teaching initiated over 140 years ago, is more relevant today than ever in helping individuals and communities in meeting these challenges. The practical reality is that the services provided over time have become ubiquitously interwoven into the very fabric of our state;
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) through Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension and Rutgers Cook College daily carry forward that land grant mission in collaboration with the USDA, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, other federal and state agencies, New Jersey Farm Bureau, commodity groups, counties, municipalities, schools and community-based organizations;
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s land grant system is active at every level of proposing, refining, and implementing innovative solutions to issues facing agriculture, the food industry and the greater state-wide community. Research and extension faculty develop new technologies, services and activities that contribute directly to the quality of life in New Jersey by enhancing the long-term performance of agriculture and the food system, the viability of communities and the sustainability of the environment, while providing vital short-term assistance as demonstrated in the following limited number of examples:
- Positively impacting 60,000 New Jersey youth each year with 4-H programs such as CHARACTER COUNTS.
- Working aggressively towards food security by reaching out annually to more than 30,000 limited-resource residents through the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, and providing them with food, dietary, purchasing and preparation information.
- Delivering research and educational health programs in areas such as obesity and osteoporosis and the health-promoting qualities of food to help reduce risks of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
- Timely response to threats to the quality of life in New Jersey, such as the Asian Long-horned Beetle infestations,
- Addressing other needs such as Bacterial Leaf Scorch Infection, Late Blight Infection and Avian Flu, with research-based information, educational programs, and where relevant, assistance in obtaining access to new products to respond to such emergencies.
- Protecting community health by developing and delivering Integrated Pest Management programs to producers of fruit, vegetable, field, turf and nursery crops and to schools.
- Enhancing viability of agriculture and quality of life statewide by developing new value-added varieties of apples, asparagus, blueberries, cranberries, ornamental plants, peaches, strawberries and turf.
- Broadening community involvement by training 3,795 Master Gardeners, who in turn provided $12.9 million dollars worth of volunteer time and serviced to the residents of New Jersey since the inception of the Master Gardener Program in 1984.
- The Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton has provided vital services to over 200 clients including farmers, cooperatives, start-ups and small-to mid-sized food companies through their educational, consulting and training programs. Over $400,000 in grants have been secured for clients from USDA and DOL, including 7 grants from USDA Rural Development.
- Active at every level to provide practical expertise to help communities face issues of storm water management, watershed restoration and mosquito control;
WHEREAS, today the NJAES, along with its land grant mission, is facing unprecedented challenges. NJAES has managed to respond to increasing budgetary demands by aggressively managing finances, but is severely constrained annually by suffering budgetary shortfalls;
WHEREAS, NJAES is funded in part through the State Higher Education budget, it does not have access to student tuition to offset deficits;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates of the 91st State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey on February 8, 2006, reaffirm our support of the NJAES as it applies the principles of the land grant mission in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we urge the State Legislature to provide in fiscal year 2006-2007 full funding to the NJAES base budget in support of its mission to address pressing needs in the State of New Jersey.