WHEREAS, at the same time, New Jersey’s grain and forage producers harvest more acres than any other agricultural commodity, but historically their per-acre total receipts have been among the lowest in the state, despite stronger prices in 2007; and keeping those acres in active agriculture will require an innovative approach to new market opportunities that increase demand and keep prices competitive; and
WHEREAS, increasing fuel costs continue to place financial burdens on other sectors, diminishing even the positive effects of improving prices paid to farmers, such as those in New Jersey’s dairy industry, where farmers have received better prices in 2007 than in 2006 for their raw milk, yet increasing fuel costs continue to threaten their economic viability, which also depends on making the most of all their products and byproducts, even the manure created by their cows; AND bio-gas production using manure can help reduce dairy and other livestock producers’ costs of handling manure and may be a potential revenue source; and
WHEREAS, bio-gas facilities also have the potential to remove large amounts of food waste and other refuse from the waste stream, to be mixed with manure in the production of bio-gas, lessening the state’s reliance on landfills and thereby enhancing the environment and reducing municipal waste-disposal costs; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) in 2006-2007 conducted the first comprehensive biomass/waste inventory assessment of New Jersey, as well as a bioenergy technology assessment, to determine the state’s current and projected bioenergy capabilities; and the NJAES also developed the first comprehensive statewide mapping of biomass/waste resources, including critical information in the development of a strategy to move New Jersey into the forefront of bioenergy; and
WHEREAS, from both the producer and consumer standpoints, New Jersey’s agricultural community would benefit from a concerted effort to pursue and advocate the use or production of renewable “green energy,” such as ethanol, bio-diesel, wind power, solar power, biogas and biomass; and
WHEREAS, ethanol, bio-diesel, and biogas in particular, offer opportunities for the producer, to expand the markets for corn, soybeans and other crops, and for byproducts and waste stream items; and
WHEREAS, ethanol plants currently under development in New Jersey are projected to produce anywhere from 3 to 40 million gallons of ethanol, and this process also would produce distillers’ grains for use as livestock feed and liquid carbon dioxide, which in part could be used in flash freezing operations for Jersey-grown fruits and vegetables; and
WHEREAS, although advancing technology has made solar and wind power, as used in land-based farm operations, more affordable to implement and has provided an opportunity for farmers to reduce their operational energy costs in the face of rising fossil fuel prices, the application of property taxes to these systems as improvements to real property, currently allowed under New Jersey law, threatens to inhibit the use of such systems on New Jersey farms; and
WHEREAS, agricultural producers would be more likely to participate in programs encouraging the installation of alternative energy systems if the energy cost savings from these systems were not diminished by an increase in property taxes due to such systems being treated as improvements to real property; and
WHEREAS, there are several bills currently pending before the Legislature, which would provide a property tax exemption to landowners who install alternative energy systems on their property; and
WHEREAS, a study recently completed by Rutgers University for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities concluded that the state could, indeed, draw 20 percent of its overall power needs from renewable sources by 2020, creating energy reliability benefits and leading to savings of as much as $330 million in health and environmental benefits from harm caused by pollution that results from traditional fuels; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey, at the direction of Governor Jon S. Corzine, is developing an Energy Master Plan that addresses all areas of energy production and consumption in the state; and
WHEREAS, the Energy Master Plan is expected to contain guidelines for the production, distribution and use of alternative biofuels, many made from farm products, byproducts or waste; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture has worked since June 2006 in a cooperative effort with the Board of Public Utilities, the Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commission, Rutgers University and the Governor’s Office of Economic Growth to create the most conducive environment for biofuels projects to thrive in New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, this “Biofuels Action Group” has identified numerous viable alternative energy proposals from entities interested in locating in New Jersey.
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 continued development of renewable energy sources in New Jersey and support the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s comprehensive “green energy” strategy from both the producer and consumer perspectives, which can be found on the Department’s web site at http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/news/hottopics/topics060222.html, and which will best position New Jersey’s agricultural community to benefit from the pursuit of and advocacy for renewable energy.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the work of the Biofuels Action Group in creating the most conducive environment for biofuels projects to thrive in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and the Legislature to support, pass and sign into law, legislation embodying the concepts proposed in legislation that would exempt alternative-energy systems placed on residential and commercial properties from being taxed as improvements to real property, since it is in both the environmental and economic best interests of the state to encourage installation of these systems.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and the Legislature to work closely and cooperatively with proposed ethanol, bio-diesel, biogas and other alternative fuel projects, so that the benefits of locally grown alternative fuel can be reaped by all citizens of the State of New Jersey in the near future.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support measures that will spur local production of biofuels and alternative energy from agricultural crops, byproducts and waste, providing an expanded market for these commodities that will enhance farmers’ economic viability.