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WHEREAS, increased energy costs are placing a greater financial burden across New Jersey, increasing the cost of doing business for all New Jersey’s producers from all agricultural sectors; large increases have been seen especially in petroleum products and natural gas, making traditional fossil fuels less attractive for farm operation use; and

WHEREAS, at the same time, New Jersey’s grain and forage producers harvest more acres than any other agricultural commodity, but their per-acre total receipts are among the lowest in the state; AND keeping those acres in active agriculture will require an innovative approach to new market opportunities that increase demand and keep prices competitive; and

WHEREAS, from both the producer and consumer standpoints, New Jersey’s agricultural community would benefit from a concerted effort to pursue and advocate the use of renewable “green energy,” such as ethanol, soy diesel, wind power, solar power, biogas and biomass; and

WHEREAS, ethanol and bio-diesel, in particular, offer opportunities for the producer, to expand the markets for corn, soybeans and other crops; and

WHEREAS, the ethanol plant currently under consideration in New Jersey is projected to use 14.5 million bushels of corn per year to generate 40 million gallons of ethanol annually; and this process also would produce 121,000 tons of distillers’ grains for use as livestock feed and 121,000 tons of liquid carbon dioxide, which in part could be used in flash freezing operations for Jersey grown fruits and vegetables; and

WHEREAS, although the bio-diesel processing facility currently under development in Somerset County will initially rely on soybean oil imported from the South because there is no ready source of the oil in New Jersey, the developers of that facility are seeking farmers interested in investing in a soybean crushing operation so the oil can be obtained locally; and

WHEREAS, although advancing technology has made solar and wind power, as used in land-based farm operations, more affordable to implement and has provided an opportunity for farmers to reduce their operational energy costs in the face of rising fossil fuel prices, the application of property taxes to these systems as improvements to real property, currently allowed under New Jersey law, threatens to inhibit the use of such systems on New Jersey farms; and

, there is currently pending before the Legislature bill number A1882, which would provide a property tax exemption to landowners who installed alternative energy systems on their property; and

WHEREAS, a study recently completed by Rutgers University for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities concluded the State could, indeed, draw 20 percent of its overall power needs from renewable sources by 2020, creating energy reliability benefits and leading to savings of as much as $330 million in health and environmental benefits from harm caused by pollution that results from traditional fuels; and

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, through its Clean Energy Program, makes available grants for as much as 70 percent of the cost of installing certain alternative energy systems, and the Board of Public Utilities has made a concerted effort to encourage farmers to participate in this program; and

WHEREAS, farmers would be more likely to participate in programs encouraging the installation of alternative energy systems if the energy cost savings from these systems were not diminished by an increase in property taxes when such systems are treated as improvements to real property; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey can be a leader in the move toward alternative fuels, and state government can serve as a role model for that change; for example, although 75 percent of the State’s light-duty vehicle fleet is capable of running on alternative fuels, gasoline continues to be the fuel of choice for the overwhelming majority of people driving state cars, largely due to a shortage of facilities where such drivers could fill up on alternative fuels.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 91st State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 7, 2006, support the continued development of renewable energy sources in New Jersey and support the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s comprehensive “green energy” strategy from both the producer and consumer perspectives, which will best position New Jersey’s agricultural community to benefit from the pursuit and advocacy of renewable energy.

, that we urge the Governor and the Legislature to support legislation that would exempt alternative-energy systems placed on residential and commercial properties from being taxed as improvements to real property, since it is in both the environmental and economic best interests of the State to encourage installation of these systems.

, that we urge the Governor and the Legislature to adopt A1882 and to take action that would encourage the purchase, and use, of alternative-fuel vehicles, especially those capable of running on ethanol or bio-diesel, in the State fleet, and to pursue the establishment of more State fleet filling stations where those fuels can be obtained in order to encourage use of the alternative fuels over gasoline.

, that we urge the Governor and the Legislature to work closely and cooperatively with proposed ethanol or other alternative fuel projects, so that the benefits of locally grown alternative fuel can be reaped by all citizens of the State of New Jersey in the near future.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge New Jersey farmers to explore the establishment of a soybean crusher in New Jersey, which would give the State’s producers of bio-diesel a local source or soybean oil, thereby avoiding the additional transportation costs associated with importing soybean oil from further away.