2007 Economic Development Strategies - Field and Forage Crops Industry
In 2004, New Jersey harvested more than 337,400 acres of field crops worth an estimated $92 million. The leading field crops harvested were 120,000 acres of hay, 103,000 acres of soybeans, 85,000 acres of corn for grain and silage, 24,000 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 can be less profitable to produce commodity items in New Jersey than elsewhere. However, in 2006 prices for New Jersey field and forage crops were strong.
One area that offers opportunity for field crops is the emerging prospects for renewable fuels as part of the Green Energy sector. New Jersey’s corn and grain farmers may be positioned to capitalize on the growing national movement toward ethanol-blended and bio-diesel fuels. More than 3.4 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in the United States in 2004. Ethanol can stretch the current oil supply. Bio Diesel plants will need a readily available, local source of these feed stocks for their operations. 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.
In 2006 market opportunities between organic growers and processors were supported and progress toward the construction of an ethanol plant has continued.
In 2007 efforts will be continued to support organic crop production, farm income diversification, the establishment of an ethanol plant and grower education about agri-tourism opportunities will be continued.
5.0 FIELD CROPS STRATEGIES
5.0 Ensure Plant Health
49) STRATEGY - Through the implementation of the Mexican Bean Beetle parasite program, soybean rust monitoring surveys and the release of beneficial insects to control tarnished plant bug and mile-a-minute weed, the department will continue working to protect the health of the field and forage crops from the immediate threat of devastating and economically damaging plant pests and diseases.
50) STRATEGY - Aid in the development of a state wide working group to define benchmarks and goals to improve New Jersey production and yield per acre for the crops of corn, soybeans, small grains, grass hay, alfalfa hay, pasture and other alternative forage & feed crops. Objectives of this working group include the improvement of pasture and crop productivity and utilization through application of improved management practices, increased economic and environmental sustainability of forage-livestock systems, and improved production and quality of conserved feeds, including alfalfa and other hays and silages.
Work with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and NRCS to:
1. Provide regional producer workshops that will emphasize the benefits of good pasture and cropland management and preservation of water quality.
2. Explore the use of demonstration plots that will emphasize renovation and intensive management systems to improve yield per acre.
5.1 Support Organic Field Crop Production
51) STRATEGY – Continue to encourage the production of certified organic soybeans, corn and wheat to increase the value of these crops.
52) STRATEGY – Continue to 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.
5.2 Support Plans for a Green Energy Initiative
53) STRATEGY– Continue to facilitate and support efforts to construct an ethanol plant in New Jersey. The plant will create a major new local market for the state’s grain growers, and has the potential to elevate the price paid for regionally produced corn.
54) 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 Crop Insurance Education
55) STRATEGY – Plan and conduct two grain-marketing sessions to inform producers about the role of crop insurance in mitigating marketing risk in forward contracting.