WHEREAS, untapped market opportunities and limited access to innovations that would enhance prosperity, stewardship potential and compatibility with other land uses also severely impact sustainability and viability; and
WHEREAS, given the public benefits of the agricultural and food system complex in all communities throughout the state, these constraints impinge upon assuring food security, nutrition and health, water quality and supply, environmental sustainability, economic development and quality of life in the Garden State; and
WHEREAS, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) has taken the lead in embracing innovative, science-based and participatory approaches to meeting the needs of its stakeholders, and is a cornerstone of support for New Jersey agriculture, providing the expertise and information needed to develop effective strategies that benefit and positively impact the agricultural community; and
WHEREAS, the NJAES research and extension faculty develop new technologies, services, and activities that contribute directly to the quality of life in New Jersey by enhancing the long-term performance of agriculture and the food system, the nutrition and health of our residents, programs in youth development, the viability of communities, and the sustainability of the environment, while providing vital short-term assistance as well; and
WHEREAS, the NJAES through its nine off-campus research and extension centers and offices in all 21 counties, provides the agricultural community with a direct link to the expertise at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and together with state government, County Boards of Chosen Freeholders, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is doing its part to make New Jersey agriculture a viable and sustainable industry for generations to come; and
WHEREAS, the NJAES has a strong commitment to the future of New Jersey agriculture and is establishing an agricultural science major for students interested in an entrepreneurial and innovative education in the agricultural sciences, wherein areas of focus will include controlled-environment agriculture, plant and animal science, agricultural policy and entrepreneurship, business management, natural resource management and niche agriculture, including agro-tourism, community-supported agriculture, and sustainable agriculture; and
WHEREAS, though NJAES is funded in part through the State Higher Education budget, it does not have access to student tuition to offset budget reductions and increases in operational costs; and
WHEREAS, the Rutgers Food Innovation Center is an economic development outreach program of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) and provides solutions to a variety of constituents including: farmers and cooperatives desiring to create new businesses based on value-added agricultural products and/or developing new markets for their existing commodities; startup food companies coping with challenges such as financing, regulations and market development; established food companies seeking to access new technologies, upgrade quality assurance capabilities and enter new markets; and retail and foodservice establishments seeking to improve their operations and purchase locally grown New Jersey products; and
WHEREAS, the Food Innovation Center has assisted over 1,000 agriculturally related businesses in the areas of business development, product development, and education/training, and has assisted New Jersey farmers in securing almost $1 million in USDA grants for value-added product development; and
WHEREAS, the Food Innovation Center has completed the construction of its new 23,000 square foot food business incubator facility in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and this facility houses state-of-the-art, shared-use food processing space, product development and analytical support laboratories, and distance learning and teleconferencing capabilities; and
WHEREAS, with the completion this facility, the Food Innovation Center will need to invest in significant start-up costs, such as additional personnel, supplies, and equipment, and a consistent source of funding for it first few years of operation will be critical in getting the center equipped to maximize the economic impact it can have for New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the State Legislature has provided funding in support of construction of the Food Innovation Center facility as well as operational support on a year-by-year basis; and
WHEREAS, the Rutgers EcoComplex is an environmental and alternative energy research, outreach and business development center of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment; and
WHEREAS, the growing importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability, along with the increased complexities of environmental regulations, mean that businesses must increasingly adopt state-of-the-art environmental practices to be successful, resulting in significant new demand for environmental and alternative energy technologies that can be capitalized upon as part of an economic development strategy for the state of New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, to meet the environmental challenges facing New Jersey, the Rutgers EcoComplex has identified key research and outreach programs that are critical to meeting the environmental and energy challenges facing New Jersey including: renewable energy and biofuel development, landfill and solid waste management, water quality monitoring and controlled environment agriculture. Educating the public today, in order to deal with tomorrow's issues, are components of the EcoComplex outreach strategy; and
WHEREAS, the State Legislature has provided funding in support of construction of the EcoComplex main facility as well as operational support on a year-by-year basis; and
WHEREAS, Rutgers University has a world-class aquaculture research program, and has plans to assist commercial development by incorporating the existing experience of local, regional and international contacts; and
WHEREAS, the Multi-species Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (MADF) was developed by Rutgers University and funded by grants from the United States Government, the State of New Jersey, Rutgers University, and Public Service Electric and Gas; and
WHEREAS, the MADF opened its new building in 2008 and with its pilot-scale oyster hatchery the NJAES stands ready to produce all the disease resistant oyster seed necessary to supply an expanding oyster aquaculture industry in Delaware Bay and contribute to the economic development of its coastal communities; and
WHEREAS, the MADF will assist in aquaculture industry development by providing demonstration project capabilities, pilot-scale testing with industrial partners, and application through commercial-scale deployment of new technologies and products. The MADF will develop workforce training programs to educate those looking to find employment in this industry sector or to start their own businesses. The MADF also pursues solutions to broader problems in disease diagnostics and control; genetic stock maintenance; predation control; environmental quality; breeding, nutrition and systems management; and
WHEREAS, today the NJAES, along with its land grant mission, is facing unprecedented challenges and has managed to respond to increasing budgetary demands by aggressively managing finances, but is severely constrained annually by suffering budgetary shortfalls.
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, reaffirm our support of the NJAES as it applies the principles of the land grant mission in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to provide in FY2010 full funding to the NJAES base budget along with an inflationary increase as requested in the FY10 New Jersey State Budget, in support of its mission to address pressing needs in the State of New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to provide support in FY2010 in the amount of $500,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to achieve its full potential.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to support in FY2010 the amount of $300,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Rutgers EcoComplex to achieve its full potential.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to support in FY2010 the amount of $350,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Multi-species Aquaculture Demonstration Facility to achieve its full potential.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature to provide support in the FY2010 budget in the amount of $300,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the N.J. Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Cream Ridge Nursery Research Center to achieve its fullest potential.