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WHEREAS, the Right to Farm Act provides eligible, responsible farmers with protection from restrictive municipal ordinances, as well as public and private nuisance actions; and it provides increased protection to those farmers who operate in accordance with agricultural management practices (AMPs) that have been adopted by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC); and

WHEREAS, the Act gives primary jurisdiction in resolving complaints against agricultural operations to county agriculture development boards and ultimately to the SADC if the decisions of the county boards are appealed; and

WHEREAS, the SADC offers a voluntary Agricultural Mediation Program as an alternative to the public hearing process, that can help disputing parties quickly resolve their problems, thereby saving all parties both time and costly legal fees; and

WHEREAS, this past year, the SADC pursued the development of two AMPs to address equine and agritourism operations:

· The equine AMP is designed to provide right-to-farm protection not only to equine production activities of breeding and pasturing, but also to production-related uses such as boarding and training that currently do not enjoy right-to-farm protection. Adoption of the equine AMP will provide critical protections to an important and growing sector of New Jersey agriculture.
· The agri-tourism AMP is designed to protect agritourism operations and set forth acceptable standards for such operations to shield against excessive municipal regulation of such operations. The SADC is scheduled to develop two additional AMPs in 2006 that address farm markets and greenhouses based on work performed by Rutgers staff; and

WHEREAS, upon adoption of these AMPs, the SADC will have greatly expanded protection for the four sectors of the agricultural industry most frequently subject to right-to-farm complaints; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey’s Right to Farm Act is considered the strongest in the nation, yet many municipalities and others are unaware of the protections and procedures under the Act; and SADC staff continue to educate and inform local government entities and the public about the Right to Farm Act and advise various local officials and landowners on a regular basis; and

WHEREAS, this year, the SADC will conduct its first annual Farmland Preservation Program Summit designed to inform the public of important changes to the Farmland Preservation Program and developments in the Right-to-Farm Program; and the SADC is also working with the Department of Community Affairs and the N.J. League of Municipalities to include Right to Farm as a part of the now mandatory training for local planning and zoning officials; and

WHEREAS, despite the important work of the Right to Farm Program, the program’s allocation in the FY2006 State budget continues to be insufficient to fund the program; this year, the budget again allocates only $90,000.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 91st State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 7, 2006, strongly support New Jersey’s Right to Farm Act and call upon the Legislature and Governor to appropriate a minimum of $300,000 in the FY2007 State budget for the SADC and counties to adequately administer the Act.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the SADC’s continued development, prioritization and adoption of AMPs in conjunction with the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and Rutgers University, and, in the absence of SADC adopted AMP’s, the county agriculture development boards’ continued development and recommendation of site-specific agricultural practices.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the right-to-farm public hearing process and the SADC’s Agricultural Mediation Program as a voluntary, cost-effective alternative to that process.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the SADC to actively pursue additional funding through the USDA’s Agricultural Mediation Program.

, that we call on the SADC to continue its efforts to provide the maximum protections under the Right to Farm Act.

, that we call upon and direct the SADC to take the necessary steps to insure that owners of deed restricted farms enjoy the same flexibility in adapting their agricultural operations to achieve economic viability as do owners of non-deed restricted farms under the Right to Farm Act, specifically in the areas of marketing and agri-tourism.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the SADC to continue its education efforts with the general public and municipal and county officials with respect to the protections afforded legitimate commercial farm operators under the Right to Farm Act.