WHEREAS, Secretary Kuperus immediately set about shaping the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s approach to helping the state’s farmers, fishermen, food businesses and agricultural enterprises on a three-pillared base of farmland preservation, improving farm viability and preparing the next generation of farmers while welcoming new people into agriculture; and
WHEREAS, Secretary Kuperus worked tirelessly in the Department’s efforts to promote the state’s agricultural bounty, create and expand economic opportunities for the industry, preserve thousands of acres of farmland, connect agriculture more closely to nutrition and conservation issues, protect the health and safety of our plant and animal resources, provide more avenues of quality agricultural education; and
WHEREAS, the Department, under the Secretary’s leadership, also expanded the Jersey Fresh and related brands that distinguish New Jersey agricultural products in an increasingly competitive marketplace, dramatically increased the number of community farmers markets to provide further opportunities for farmers to sell directly to the public and for the public to learn more about the sources of its food, and engendered innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to agricultural and related businesses; and
WHEREAS, the Department, under Secretary Kuperus’ leadership, faced and managed unprecedented challenges such as Asian longhorned beetle infestation, avian influenza surveillance, public demand for ever-increasing food-safety protocols, school nutrition rules necessitated by a growing tide of obesity in school children, quickly growing demand for food provided to community feeding programs and a dramatic spike in the state’s gypsy moth population; and
WHEREAS, the Department during Secretary Kuperus’ leadership had to accomplish these tasks at a time when state funding to the Department dramatically decreased, prompting consolidation and cross-training in Department positions as “doing more with less” became an ever-present mandate; and
WHEREAS, Secretary Kuperus resigned from his position effective December 31, 2008, leaving behind a legacy of increased economic opportunity for New Jersey’s agricultural and food industry, a greatly expanded agricultural working landscape of preserved farmland, and an energized corps of youth setting their sights on careers in the business, science and technology of agriculture.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 94th State Agricultural Convention, gathered in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 11, 2009, do hereby thank and commend Secretary Kuperus for his efforts in support of the Garden State’s agricultural community, his willingness to be innovative in embracing new approaches to the challenges facing agriculture, and his leadership on both a state and national level in influencing agricultural public policy that will continue to have an impact on the industry for years to come.