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WHEREAS,ornamental horticulture, floriculture and sod combine to form the largest single sector of agriculture in New Jersey, accounting for more than 40 percent of the total cash receipts annually; and

WHEREAS,crops grown in that sector include woody plants that naturally mature to a height greater than three (3) feet; and

WHEREAS,New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, and land values are perennially among the highest in the country, creating a need for our farmers to make the most of every acre of land to operate at maximum efficiency; and

WHEREAS,the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has established an administrative rule that prohibits woody vegetation that naturally matures to a height greater than three feet from being located in a utility’s right-of-way beneath high-tension electrical transmission lines; and

WHEREAS,this rule has been proposed for amendment to include the language, “The preferred growth in a wire zone shall be grasses or a low-growing compatible shrub scrub plant community to obtain a meadow effect where possible”; and

WHEREAS,because New Jersey has many such power lines, the cumulative effect of the rule and amendment is to significantly reduce the amount of land on which woody crops naturally maturing to a height greater than three feet may be grown; and

WHEREAS,electric power generators have begun strictly interpreting the rule and ordering producers growing such woody plants in rights-of-way under power lines to remove them, without compensation for the lost inventory; and

WHEREAS,we, the delegates understand that the NJBPU’s rule came into being as a result of a widespread power outage throughout the East Coast in 2003 after a power line in Ohio sagged and electricity arced to a tree that came within 20 feet of the uninsulated power line; and

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has worked cooperatively with the NJBPU on many issues in the past, including the pursuit of biofuels production in New Jersey and the crafting of components of the State Energy Master Plan. 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the we, the delegates to the 93rd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 6, 2008, do hereby urge the Department and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, along with the electric power generators and transmitters in New Jersey, to work cooperatively to find a solution to the issue of woody plants under power lines that both protects producers’ ability to efficiently use the limited land available in New Jersey and also maintains the safety of our state’s residents and the integrity of the electric supply grid.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,that we urge that this solution be incorporated into the NJBPU’s rule through the proper administrative process so that it will have the force of law.