WHEREAS, environmental imperatives and sustainability have joined the ranks of quality, responsiveness and flexibility as the base upon which the competitive positions of businesses, states and regions are judged; and
WHEREAS, to remain competitive and viable, businesses must increasingly adopt state-of-the-art environmental practices; and as a result, many industries are now looking to the advances made in the agricultural sector through programs such as Integrated Pest Management, the sector’s growing use of renewable energy, and exploring how operating practices can be modified to meet environmental impact and quality enhancement goals; and
WHEREAS, competitive advantages now accrue to the firms and communities that take an aggressive, pro-active environmental stewardship position; and the result is a significant new demand for environmental technologies that can be capitalized upon as part of an economic development strategy for the State of New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, to meet the environmental challenges facing New Jersey, the New Jersey EcoComplex has identified critical research and outreach programs; and secure in the leadership of the newly appointed Executive Director, programs focused on renewable energy and biofuel development, landfill and solid waste management, watershed management, controlled environment agriculture, air quality enhancement and monitoring, educating the public through K-16 education activities, and training environmental stewards today puts New Jersey at the cutting edge of environmental stewardship; and
WHEREAS, the State Legislature has provided funding in support of construction of an EcoComplex building and operational support on a year-by-year basis; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) daily carries forward its 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; and
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; and the practical reality is that the services provided over time have become ubiquitously interwoven into the very fabric of our State; and
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 statewide community; and
WHEREAS, 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 service to the residents of New Jersey since the inception of the Master Gardener Program in 1984;
- Active at every level to provide practical expertise to help communities face issues of storm water management, watershed restoration and mosquito control; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s agricultural community is faced with numerous, evolving challenges to its viability and sustainability, some of which include increased land-use regulation, rising production costs, right-to-farm issues, water quality concerns, wildlife damage, and rising taxes; and emerging and unexploited market opportunities and limited access to recent innovations also severely impact sustainability and viability; and
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; and 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; and
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, and its viability and sustainability are of critical importance to the entire community of our State; and
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; and
WHEREAS, although NJAES is funded in part through the State Higher Education budget, it does not have access to student tuition to offset its deficits.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 92nd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 14, 2007, urge the State Legislature to provide support in the amount of $500,000 permanent annul funding as an line item in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Rutgers EcoComplex to achieve its full potential.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we 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 2007-2008 full funding to the NJAES base budget in support of its mission to address pressing needs in the State of New Jersey.