WHEREAS, New Jersey’s multi billion-dollar domestic livestock, fruit and vegetable industries sell their products nationally and internationally; and the state’s 8.7 million residents, as well as people residing on the East Coast and in parts of Canada, are among the primary recipients of products grown on New Jersey farms; and
WHEREAS, globalization and increased free trade are linked to the unintended consequences of increased importation of foreign pests and diseases infesting or infecting United States crops, plants, animals, grasslands, forests and other ecosystems; and
WHEREAS, consumer confidence in the safety of food grown, produced, processed and sold in New Jersey is vital to maintaining a robust food and agriculture complex in the state; and any connection of the state’s food-supply chain to illnesses has the effect of reducing consumer confidence in all food, and negatively impacting the economic viability of New Jersey farmers and the value of food that is grown, produced, processed or distributed in New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, a more interconnected, sophisticated and technologically advanced system of detecting, reporting and sharing information about foodborne illnesses has created the perception, rightly or wrongly, that such incidents are occurring more frequently and are more likely to be related; and
WHEREAS, even one incident of foreign animal disease, exotic pest or bioterrorism in livestock, crops, agricultural products or ecosystems can result in great losses of life, and economic and aesthetic losses to the industry, to communities and to the natural resources of the state; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey agricultural community plays a vital role in domestic preparedness, homeland security, and the detection of potential animal and agricultural diseases or pests; and
WHEREAS, with expanding technology and the discovery of new diseases and invasive pests to both plant and animal life, the Department’s laboratories need additional space and updated equipment to effectively detect and address plant and animal diseases and invasive pests and to share and coordinate information about such diseases with other agricultural organizations and individual farm operations to protect and serve our agricultural constituency; and
WHEREAS, construction is now underway for a new laboratory in West Trenton to consolidate the New Jersey Health and Agriculture laboratories into one New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Agricultural Laboratory, with an anticipated completion date of summer 2010, and once constructed, the laboratories will need to be furnished with suitable equipment, most of which will be nontransferable from the existing laboratories; and
WHEREAS, recent world events have brought to light the importance of protecting New Jersey’s significant economic agricultural assets; and threats from bio-terrorism, invasive organisms, pests, and disease have triggered efforts to develop Best Management Practices for Security and Bio-security; and
WHEREAS, the Department has initiated and implemented programs to stress the importance of best management practices to protect the interests of each individual producer as well as the state’s interests; AND programs offered through initiatives such as the Garden State Dairy Alliance, New Jersey Cattle Health Assurance Program, New Jersey Sheep and Goat Health Assurance Program, the National Animal Identification Program, the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program bring together all the components of animal-health methods available on a statewide basis to all producers and residents; and
WHEREAS, the Department also has conducted programs to protect the general public as well as the agricultural interests of the state and provide the technical assistance for producers to reduce the risk of transmission of disease from human to animal and animal to human, as well as programs such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program, Beef Quality Assurance Program, Milk Quality Program, Tissue Residue Inspections, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance, Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance and biosecurity protocols, Third-party Audits, and the Best Management Practices for Agri-Tourism; and
WHEREAS, the Produce Safety Task Force was created within the Department and including representation from other state agencies, agricultural organizations, Rutgers University and the produce industry, to ensure that New Jersey’s fruit and vegetable producers, processors and distributors can and do meet the prevailing and emerging standards for food safety in New Jersey and the United States; and
WHEREAS, fruit and vegetable producers, as well as animal producers raising any and all species of livestock in New Jersey, must become educated, now more than ever, on farm bio-security, animal health, food safety and emergency preparedness for possible outbreaks of disease and contamination; and
WHEREAS, in addition, the Department has developed a series of Best Management Practices for the twenty-one sub-sectors that make up the Agriculture Sector, to address bio-security, domestic preparedness, agro-security, and homeland security; and
WHEREAS, the Best Management Practices will enable farmers to take proactive measures to protect their workers, their operations and the public, and, by being continually incorporated into the farm community, everyday, by everyone, at all levels, will keep farming and farm products safe; and by doing so, protect farm family livelihoods and keep the Garden State safe; and
WHEREAS, the immediate and proper response to disasters affecting the health, safety and welfare of all animals requires the coordinated efforts of specialists in emergency medical care, evacuation, feeding, sheltering, transportation and waste disposal; and
WHEREAS, the Animal Emergency Working Group (AEWG), an inter-agency team of animal professionals including state veterinarians, Office of Emergency Management officials, local animal control officers, and others, continues to develop standards and teams at the state and local level, to address the needs of animals and their owners during disasters; and
WHEREAS, the Department in cooperation with Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension and the New Jersey Farm Bureau offers programs to support management teams, and provide financial management programs to aid in profitability and sustainability of the industry; and
WHEREAS, the Department and the Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis are working to develop a system to determine the location of the livestock, poultry, and equine industries in the state that will meet any current or future requirements for national or international programs to protect these industries in New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the Department in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and funded by a grant from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is working to enhance and modify an existing reportable animal disease surveillance system to monitor for emerging and/or foreign animal diseases, animal diseases of particular significance or animal disease outbreaks; and
WHEREAS, the Department in cooperation and with grant funding from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is working with the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) counties to enhance their ability to respond to animals in disasters.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 94th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 11, 2009, in order to keep New Jersey's agricultural products safe, its industry competitive, its natural resources diverse, and consumer confidence high, call upon the agricultural community to embrace these initiatives and incorporate them into their farming practices to help prevent accidental introduction of disease, reduce the risk of becoming a target for terrorist activities, increase the ability to respond both locally and statewide to any type of disaster, be it natural or man-made, affecting any aspect of the agricultural community, and to ensure the safety of New Jersey grown, raised, produced, processed or distributed agricultural products.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon the members of the agricultural community and urge them to continue to embrace all of the best management practices, and incorporate the procedures into their farming practices to enhance security and biosecurity in their operations. Such measures are necessary in order to keep New Jersey’s agricultural products safe, its industry competitive, and consumer confidence high.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge all regulatory agencies to also follow these best management practices and incorporate security and biosecurity practices when they enter agricultural properties.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the continued development of the Department and the Animal Emergency Working Group’s continued efforts to develop all-hazard emergency response plans and teams for disasters involving animals and that we encourage local townships, municipalities, and offices of emergency management to embrace the PETS Act and develop functional response plans for the animals in their jurisdiction during any type of disaster or emergency.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the Department and the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Program’s continued efforts to develop an early detection and rapid response plan for detection of new exotic pest/disease incursions, and the control of insidious, invasive foreign pests through eradication and suppression programs such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the Livestock and Poultry Food Safety Initiatives originating from and developed by the partnership of the Department, Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, including but not limited to, the Garden State Dairy Alliance program, the New Jersey Cattle Health Assurance Program and the New Jersey Sheep and Goat Health Assurance Program; as well as continued support for inclusion and participation in the Mid-Atlantic Beef Quality Assurance Program, Shellfish Producers Quality Assurance Program, Regional Dairy Quality Management Alliance program and National Pork Producers Quality Assurance Program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we endorse and support the Department’s continued expansion of laboratory facilities and associated field staff activities that allow for ongoing and expanded surveillance of emerging animal and plant diseases.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we respectfully request that the Legislature appropriate a budget that will enable the Department’s laboratories to be fully completed and properly equipped and professionally staffed to meet the current demands in diagnostics and for the required growth of each program
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the work of the Produce Safety Task Force, to ensure that New Jersey’s fruit and vegetable producers, processors and distributors can and do meet the prevailing standards for food safety in New Jersey and the United States and to educate the public about the high standards of food safety being met by the produce industry in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Produce Safety Task Force to consider issues of market sustainability and expansion of market opportunities, and in particular, to explore the marketing, public awareness of and public demand for New Jersey produce grown through the use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support continued use of the Jersey Fresh quality grading standards and Third-Party auditing as components of a comprehensive food-safety strategy, and urge that any system of national standards for food safety employ the USDA protocols already used in the Department’s Third-Party auditing, taking into account the differences in agricultural operation size and the specific food safety requirements of various types of farm products.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge agricultural industry groups, wholesalers, retailers, and all appropriate government agencies working to ensure the health and safety of agricultural products to agree upon a single, uniform auditing standard to avoid the divergent and sometimes contradictory array of auditing standards currently employed, which can result in farmers who qualify to sell to one customer not being able to sell to another due to the use of differing standards.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature and the Governor to provide additional funding for Third-Party auditing and the Jersey Fresh quality grading programs to continue ensuring that New Jersey offers fresh, high-quality and safe foods to consumers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the initiative of the Department, in cooperation with the Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, to develop, support, oversee and own a GIS database for the purpose of protecting New Jersey’s livestock and poultry industry in the face of a natural or man-made disaster; and encourage the Walton Center to work with the NJDA-Division of Animal Health to develop the needs and components of this system.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we support the initiative of the Department, in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and funded by a grant from the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, in developing and implementing modifications to the Reportable Animal Disease Database for the purpose of improving the Department’s ability to protect against, detect, and respond to threats and incidents that would result in the disruption of industries related to livestock and other domestic animals and/or endanger the food supply, public health, and domestic and international trade.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the initiative of the Department, in cooperation with the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, in developing projects and plans that will enhance the ability of County Animal Response Teams to evacuate and shelter animals during emergencies and disasters.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the local municipalities and townships as well as offices of emergency management to ensure that the emergency plans they have developed include response plans for animals during disasters.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature and the Governor to support the PETS Act and provide additional funding needed both locally and at the state level to develop preparedness plans for all animals in disasters.