WHEREAS, difficulty in maintaining profitability is a reality for many sectors of the seafood and agricultural industries, making it less appealing for individuals to start or continue agricultural or seafood businesses, and discouraging people interested in exploring careers in these industries from investing in the land and assets associated with them; and
WHEREAS, development pressure to consume undeveloped agricultural land has not only resulted in the loss of the agricultural land and assets, but contributes to overcrowding and strain on existing municipal resources; and
WHEREAS, the steady decline in ag-related industries, and the loss of land and assets associated with them, has a proven negative impact on the quality of life for all New Jersey residents; and
WHEREAS, the future of New Jersey’s agricultural industry relies not only on its current members but also in the recruitment of new and young farmers into the industry; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has prepared and begun implementing an Agricultural Development Initiative to bolster the economic prospects for agricultural producers in all sectors, which includes eight recommendations to assist in agriculture viability and growth, as specified in the attached outline; and
WHEREAS, several projects detailed in that outline have been accomplished by the Department in the past year, including:
- Creating labor resources, including training for producers, managers and workers. In 2007, these included farmer entrepreneurial training; food safety training for more than 700 farms; and securing federal funding for a “mock audit” program that will prepare farmers for third-party auditing.
- Strengthening the New Jersey brands by expanding into “Jersey Fresh Milk” and “Jersey Organic” labels, as well as making the “Jersey Bred” brand a major component of the move to reinvigorate the state’s equine industry.
- Continuing to develop and implement Right to Farm AMPs that encourage and support innovation and protect the producer’s bottom line. The Equine AMP is expected to be adopted in early 2008, and its implementation will follow.
- Continuing to promote green energy through the work of the Biofuels Action Group and participation in the State Energy Master Plan process, contributing heavily to the plan’s section on the use of crops and waste for biomass-based fuels and energy.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 93rd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 6, 2008, support the Agricultural Development Initiative presented by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture as set forth in the attached document and respectfully urge the Governor and Legislature to work with the Department to further implement the components of that Initiative.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and State Legislature to provide funding for educational and incentive programs designed to encourage potential future farmers or farm industry entrepreneurs to join the industry.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Department to work toward these goals in cooperation with partners such as the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, the USDA, New Jersey Farm Bureau, other state agencies, leading agricultural organizations and commodity groups to build an agricultural development initiative acceptable to all.