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WHEREAS, in order for agriculture to be successful in New Jersey, it must be economically viable; the diversity of New Jersey’s agricultural products, coupled with the state’s close proximity to major markets, creates a foundation for continued success for New Jersey’s third largest industry; and

WHEREAS, the Department must research and create new strategies to assist farmers in identifying new trends, tap emerging markets, and offer new products to consumers; and the Department’s economic development strategies, which are part of the Department’s Smart Growth Plan, must support existing sectors as well as encourage emerging sectors of the agricultural industry; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture, working cooperatively with Rutgers University Cook College and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), along with New Jersey farmers and consumers, must look ahead for new and emerging markets as well as alternative uses for products already grown in the state; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey’s agricultural operators saw their cash receipts rise for the third straight year in 2006, a 6 percent increase over 2005, from $873,507,000 to $923,933,000, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and combined with an increase in net farm income over the same period, the data show an improving trend for the Garden State’s farmers, which can be sustained only with constant attention to economic development opportunities.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates of the 93rd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 6, 2008, support and endorse the Department of Agriculture working with industry groups and other representatives to develop economic growth strategies for New Jersey’s agricultural industries.  The Department shall endeavor to identify and initiate no less than one hundred strategies for the economic development of the agriculture industry, with particular focus on the produce, ornamental horticulture, seafood, dairy, field and forage crops, livestock and poultry, organic, equine, wine and agricultural tourism sectors.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we recommend that the Department of Agriculture, Rutgers Cook College and Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station, the United States Department of Agriculture, industry groups and producers work to identify and assist in developing new market and value-added opportunities for New Jersey farmers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we encourage the faculty and administration of NJAES to continue to reach out to academic departments and centers throughout Rutgers in order to bring their expertise to bear on issues of importance to New Jersey.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support participation in the Jersey Fresh, Jersey Grown, Jersey Seafood, Jersey Organic, Jersey Bred, and all other Department grading and promotion programs to ensure high quality standards and build consumer loyalty to New Jersey products.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support and endorse the Economic Development Strategies for 2008.