Due to the state’s high land values, property taxes and labor rates, production costs in New Jersey are higher than in most other production areas. With commodity prices based on national production costs, yields and demand, it can be less profitable to produce commodity items in New Jersey than elsewhere. However, in 2007 prices for New Jersey field and forage crops were strong.
One area that has offered opportunity for field crops is the renewable fuels part of the Green Energy sector. New Jersey’s field and forage farmers may be positioned to capitalize on the growing national movement toward ethanol-blended and bio-diesel fuels and their crops would be in higher demand should plans for bio-fuel production facilities come to fruition. Meanwhile, opportunities are emerging for crop residues and warm season grasses to be turned into pellets that can be burned in stoves, and those same materials are being targeted for use in biomass energy projects that generate electricity and/or heat. Even if New Jersey farmers’ crops are not being utilized for such fuels, the increase in demand for feedstocks elsewhere in the country has pushed the overall price of field crops higher over the past few years. That trend began leveling off in mid-2008, with prices dropping back toward more traditional levels.
In 2008 market opportunities between organic growers and processors were supported and progress toward the establishment of bio-fuel plants will be continued in 2009.
In 2009 efforts will be continued to support organic crop production, farm income diversification, the establishment of a bio-fuels plant and grower education about agri-tourism opportunities will be continued.
FIELD CROPS STRATEGIES
5.0 Ensure Plant Health
41) STRATEGY - Through the implementation of the Mexican Bean Beetle parasite program, soybean rust monitoring surveys and the release of beneficial insects to control tarnished plant bug and mile-a-minute weed, the department will continue working to protect the health of the field and forage crops from the immediate threat of devastating and economically damaging plant pests and diseases.
42) STRATEGY - Aid in the development of strategies, to improve New Jersey production and yield per acre for corn, soybeans, small grains, grass hay, alfalfa hay, pasture and other alternative forage & feed crops. Work to support improved management practices, increased economic and environmental sustainability of forage-livestock systems, and improved production and quality of conserved feeds, including alfalfa and other hays and silages.
Work with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and NRCS to:
- Provide regional producer workshops that will emphasize the benefits of good pasture and cropland management and preservation of water quality.
- Explore the use of demonstration plots that will emphasize renovation and intensive management systems to improve yield per acre.
5.1 Support Organic Field Crop Production
43) STRATEGY – Continue to encourage the production of certified organic soybeans, corn and wheat to increase the value of these crops.
44) STRATEGY – Continue to assist in linking growers with organic food processors, retailers, animal feed suppliers and all other handlers to help identify new market opportunities and take advantage of the growing demand for processed food products made from organic ingredients.
5.2 Support Plans for a Green Energy Initiative
45) STRATEGY – Continue to facilitate and support efforts to construct bio-fuel plants in New Jersey. These plants could create a major new local market for the state agricultural production and has the potential to elevate the price paid for regionally produced grain or other agricultural products.