HEALTH, SAFETY AND SECURITY IN NEW JERSEY’S AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT AND FOOD CHAINWHEREAS, the New Jersey food and agricultural complex is one of the largest industries in the State, with cash receipts totaling over $82 billion; and the State’s 8.7 million residents, as well as those residing on the East Coast and in parts of Canada are among the primary recipients of products grown on New Jersey farms; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey is a major gateway and transportation corridor for the flow of global trade through the United States; and globalization and increased free trade is linked to the unintended consequences of increased importation of foreign pests and diseases infesting or infecting U.S. crops, animals, grasslands, forests and other ecosystems; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s multi billion-dollar domestic livestock, fruit and vegetable industries sell their products nationally and internationally; and
WHEREAS, recent world events have brought to light the importance of preserving New Jersey’s significant economic agricultural asset, and threats from Bio-Terrorism, invasive organisms, pests, and disease have triggered efforts to develop Best Management Practices for Security and Bio-security; and
WHEREAS, even one incident of foreign animal disease, exotic pest or bioterrorism in livestock, crops, agricultural products or ecosystems can result in great losses of life, and economic and aesthetic losses to the industry, to communities and to the natural resources of the State; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey agricultural community plays a vital role in domestic preparedness, homeland security, and the detection of potential animal and agricultural diseases or pests; and
WHEREAS, with expanding technology and the discovery of new diseases and invasive pests to both plant and animal life, space in the New Jersey Department of Agriculture laboratories has become scarce and the need to expand that space to effectively serve our agricultural constituency has become critical; and over time, the laboratories have become antiquated, with some components such as the greenhouse, rendered unusable; and
WHEREAS, plans are now underway to engineer and construct a new laboratory in West Trenton to consolidate the New Jersey Health and Agriculture laboratories into one New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Agricultural Laboratory, with an anticipated completion date of summer 2010, and once constructed, the laboratories will need to be furnished with suitable equipment, most of which will be nontransferable from the existing laboratories; and
WHEREAS, use of the new laboratory will be a critical component in enhancing the Department’s ability to detect and address plant and animal diseases and invasive pests and to share and coordinate information about such diseases with other agricultural organizations and individual farm operations; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has initiated and implemented programs to stress the importance of best management practices to protect the interests of each individual producer as well as the State’s interests; AND programs offered through initiatives such as the Garden State Dairy Alliance, New Jersey Cattle Health Assurance Program, New Jersey Sheep and Goat Health Assurance Program, the National Animal Identification Program, the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program bring together all the components available on a statewide basis to all producers and residents; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture also has conducted programs to protect the general public as well as the agricultural interests of the State; AND programs such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program, Beef Quality Assurance Program, Milk Quality Program, Tissue Residue Inspections, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance and Best Management Practices for Agri-Tourism provide the technical assistance for producers to reduce the risk of transmission of disease from human to animal and animal to human as well; and
WHEREAS, in addition, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has developed a series of best management practices, including: school nutrition, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), agriculture aviation, animal feed industry, aquaculture industry, cattle, dairy, equine, roadside markets and farm stands, fertilizer manufacturers, horticulture industry, grain and forage producers, livestock/poultry auctions, slaughterhouses, small ruminates, swine, veterinary industry, wholesale produce, and zoos and animal exhibits, specific to the various sectors of the farm community, to address domestic preparedness, agro-security, and homeland security; and
WHEREAS, the best management practices will enable farmers to take proactive measures to protect their workers, their operations and the public, and, by doing so, to protect their livelihoods and keep the Garden State safe; and
WHEREAS, many of the guidelines mentioned in the best management practices are already being embraced by the farm community, and these domestic preparedness measures need to be continually incorporated into the farm community, everyday, by everyone, at all levels, to keep farming and farm products safe; and
WHEREAS, the Secretary of Agriculture is an officially invited member of the State’s domestic security preparedness taskforce, an appointment that opens the door for addressing the needs of all agricultural production during emergency situations including outbreaks of disease; and
WHEREAS, fruit and vegetable producers, as well as animal producers raising any and all species of livestock in New Jersey, must become educated, now more than ever, on farm bio-security, animal health, food safety, and emergency preparedness for possible outbreaks of disease and contamination; and
WHEREAS, the immediate and proper response to disasters affecting the health, safety and welfare of all animals requires the coordinated efforts of specialists in emergency medical care, evacuation, feeding, sheltering, transportation and waste disposal; and
WHEREAS, by the autumn of 2002, the State recognized the need to expand the Animal Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee (AEPARC) to include a broader representation of people or organizations involved in the animal and livestock industry as a whole and formed the Animal Emergency Working Group (AEWG); and
WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture in cooperation with NJAES Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension and the New Jersey Farm Bureau offer programs such as the Garden State Agricultural Re-Engineering Initiative to support management teams, and provide financial management programs to aid in profitability and sustainability of the industry.
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, in order to keep New Jersey's agricultural products safe, its industry competitive, its natural resources diverse, and consumer confidence high, call upon the agricultural community to embrace these best management practices, and incorporate the procedures into their farming practices to help prevent accidental introduction of disease and reduce the risk of becoming a target for terrorist activities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the delegates urge that farming operations and livestock owners and producers across New Jersey continue to implement the endorsed best management practices appropriate to their farm operations.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the continued development of the updated Animal Emergency Working Group, an inter-agency team of animal professionals including State veterinarians, Office of Emergency Management officials, local animal control officers, and others, charged with developing standards to address the needs of animal owners during a state of emergency.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the Animal Emergency Working Group’s continued efforts to develop an all-hazard emergency response plan for disasters involving animals.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program’s continued efforts to develop an early detection and rapid response plan for detection of new exotic pest/disease incursions, and the control of insidious, invasive foreign pests through eradication and suppression programs such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we support the Livestock and Poultry Food Safety Initiatives originating from and developed by the partnership of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, including but not limited to, the Garden State Dairy Alliance, the New Jersey Cattle Health Assurance Program and the New Jersey Sheep and Goat Health Assurance Program; as well as continued support for inclusion and participation in the Mid-Atlantic Beef Quality Assurance Program, Shellfish Producers Quality Assurance Program, Regional Dairy Quality Management Alliance and National Pork Producers Quality Assurance Program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the delegates call upon the agricultural community to continue to embrace these best management practices, and incorporate the procedures into their farming practices to enhance security and biosecurity in their operations. Such measures are necessary in order to keep New Jersey’s agricultural products safe, its industry competitive, and consumer confidence high.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we endorse and support the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s continued expansion of laboratory facilities and associated field staff activities that allow for ongoing and expanded surveillance of emerging animal and plant diseases.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we respectfully request that the Legislature appropriate a budget that will enable the Department’s laboratories to be fully completed and properly equipped and staffed. In addition, we urge the Department to work cooperatively with the New Jersey Building Authority and the Department of Health and Senior Services to ensure that the laboratory is furnished with the equipment necessary to operate each program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we support the initiative of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, to develop, support, oversee and own a GIS database for the purpose of protecting New Jersey’s livestock and poultry industry in the face of a natural or man-made disaster.