2006 Economic Development Strategies - Field Crops
In 2003, New Jersey harvested more than 319,000 acres of field crops worth an estimated $83 million. The leading field crops harvested were 120,000 acres of hay, 88,000 acres of soybeans, 79,000 acres of corn for grain and silage, 26,000 acres of winter wheat plus additional acreage of barley. Contributing to the State’s agricultural economy, field crops provide animal feed and help to maintain New Jersey’s working agricultural landscape.
Due to the state’s high land values, property taxes and labor rates, production costs in New Jersey are higher than in most other production areas. With commodity prices based on national production costs, yields and demand, it is less profitable to produce commodity items in New Jersey than elsewhere.
One area that offers opportunity for field crops is the emerging prospects for renewable fuels as part of the Green Energy sector. Both corn, for ethanol production, and soybeans, for bio-diesel production, would be in higher demand should plans for an ethanol plant and a bio-diesel production facility come to fruition. Those facilities will need a readily available, local source of these feedstocks for their operations.
One of the impediments to construction of an ethanol production facility in New Jersey had been the state’s prior reluctance to end reliance on methyl tertiary-butyl ether, or MTBE, as the sole oxygenate for gasoline sold in New Jersey. With MTBE, a petroleum refinery by-product, not phased out as it had been in New York and Connecticut, the impetus for producing ethanol in the state was muted.
However, in 2005, the state Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, a bill that would phase out MTBE by 2009, providing an increased need for ethanol production in the state.
In 2005 market opportunities links between organic growers and processors were developed, edible soybeans were investigated, progress toward the construction of an ethanol plant continued and a list of organic hay producers was created.
In 2006 efforts to support organic crop production, farm income diversification, the establishment of an ethanol plant, the prospect of commercially produced edible soybeans, and grower education about agri-tourism opportunities will be continued.
5.0 FIELD CROPS STRATEGIES
5.1 Support Organic Field Crop Production
50) STRATEGY – Encourage the production of certified organic soybeans, corn and wheat to increase the value of these crops.
51) STRATEGY – Assist in linking growers with organic food processors to help identify new market opportunities and take advantage of the growing demand for processed food products made from organic ingredients.
5.3 Support Plans for a Green Energy Initiative
52) STRATEGY – Continue to facilitate and support efforts to construct an ethanol plant in New Jersey. The plant will create a major new market for the state’s grain growers, and has the potential to elevate the price paid for regionally produced corn. A market for distiller’s grain, a by-product of the manufacturing process, will also be promoted.
53) STRATEGY – Continue to support and facilitate efforts to construct bio-diesel production facilities in New Jersey, and continue exploring the establishment of a soybean crusher in the state to provide a local source of soybean oil to bio-diesel production facilities. These efforts will create major new markets for the state’s soybean growers, and have the potential to elevate the price paid for regionally produced soybeans.
5.4 Seek New Markets for New Jersey Grain Crops
54) STRATEGY – Continue to support New Jersey production research into edamame, a variety of vegetable soybean. Edamame does not require processing to be ready for human consumption, can be consumed fresh or frozen, and is high in protein and low in cholesterol and fat. Continue to investigate marketing opportunities and channels of distribution to capitalize on edamame’s increasing popularity among all ethnic groups.