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, are significant and the complex’s viability and sustainability are of critical importance to the entire community of our state; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s land grant system is active at every level of developing and implementing innovative solutions to issues facing agriculture, the food industry, the environment and the greater statewide community. Research and extension faculty develop new technologies, services and activities that contribute directly to the quality of life in the state 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; and
WHEREAS, the Rutgers Food Innovation Center is an economic development outreach program of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) and provides solutions to a variety of constituents including: farmers and cooperatives desiring to create new businesses based on value-added agricultural products and/or developing new markets for their existing commodities; startup food companies evaluating differentiated new concepts in high-growth sectors, and coping with challenges such as financing, regulations and market development; established food companies seeking to access and commercialize new technologies, upgrade quality assurance capabilities, enter new markets, and expand and improve their operations; and retail and foodservice establishments seeking to improve their operations and purchase locally grown New Jersey products; and
WHEREAS, the Food Innovation Center has assisted over 700 agriculturally related businesses in the areas of business development, product development, and education/training. The center has also assisted New Jersey farmers in securing almost $1 million in USDA grants for value-added product development; and
WHEREAS, the Food Innovation Center is currently constructing a 23,000 square foot food business incubator facility in Bridgeton, New Jersey, which will be completed in Summer 2008. This facility will house state-of-the-art, shared-use food processing space, product development and analytical support laboratories, and distance learning and teleconferencing capabilities; and
WHEREAS, with the completion of its permanent facility, the Food Innovation Center will need to invest in significant start-up costs such as additional personnel, supplies, and equipment. A consistent source of funding for it first few years of operation will be critical in getting the center equipped to maximize the economic impact it can have for New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the Rutgers EcoComplex is an environmental and alternative energy research and outreach center of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment; and
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. Therefore, to remain competitive and viable, businesses must increasingly adopt state-of-the-art environmental and energy efficiency practices, and explore alternative energy options; and
WHEREAS, to meet the environmental challenges facing New Jersey, the Rutgers EcoComplex has identified critical research and outreach programs in renewable energy and biofuels development, landfill and solid waste management, watershed management, controlled environment agriculture, educating the public through K-16 education activities, and training environmental stewards; and
WHEREAS, the State Legislature has provided funding in support of construction of the EcoComplex main facility and operational support on a year-by-year basis; and
WHEREAS,Rutgers University has continued significant aquaculture research programs, and has plans to assist commercial development by incorporating the existing experience of local, regional and international contacts; and
WHEREAS,the Multi-species Aquaculture Demonstration Facility developed by Rutgers University and funded by grants from the United States Government, the State of New Jersey, Rutgers University, and Public Service Electric and Gas, is scheduled to be operational in the Spring of 2008; and
WHEREAS, today the NJAES, along with its land grant mission, is facing unprecedented challenges and has managed to respond to increasing budgetary demands by aggressively managing finances, but is severely constrained annually by suffering budgetary shortfalls; and
WHEREAS, NJAES is funded in part through the State Higher Education budget, it does not have access to student tuition to offset deficits.
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, reaffirm our support of the NJAES as it applies the principles of the land grant mission in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to provide in FY2009 full funding to the NJAES base budget along with an inflationary increase as requested in the FY09 New Jersey State Budget, in support of its mission to address pressing needs in the State of New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to provide support in FY2009 in the amount of $500,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to achieve its full potential.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to support in FY2009 the amount of $500,000 in permanent funding as a 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 urge the State Legislature to support in FY2009 the amount of $445,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Multi-species Aquaculture Demonstration Facility to achieve its full potential.