WHEREAS, the New Jersey agricultural community is faced with a multitude of challenges that threaten its viability and sustainability, including increased land-use regulation, rising production costs, right-to-farm issues, water quality concerns, wildlife damage, and rising taxes; and
WHEREAS, unexploited 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 impacts and public benefits of the agricultural and food system complex, not only in rural areas but also in the state's urban and suburban communities, 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, this past year, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) faculty and staff have worked hard to secure over $13 million in extramural grants, contracts, and gifts, and this kind of funding helps deliver programs to constituents without the need for fees for regular longstanding extension outreach by agents; and
WHEREAS, RCE is also committed to providing individuals, families and communities with the knowledge and skills to make informed choices about healthful diets, to reduce risk of chronic disease and food borne illness and to efficiently manage food resources that support their physiological health and economic and social well-being, and thus the RCE Nutrition Education Program (FCHS) is in a key position to teach individuals and communities how to live and eat sustainably; and
WHEREAS, since its inception in 2001, the Rutgers Food Innovation Center has assisted over 1,000 businesses throughout New Jersey, created over 350 jobs in new and existing companies, and assisted in securing over $1 million in third-party funding for clients, as well as providing training to over 135 unemployed and employed people in 2009; and
WHEREAS, the Food Innovation Center has completed construction of a 23,000 square foot food business incubator facility, to which the State of New Jersey contributed $1.8 million in construction funds, and which opened its doors in October 2008, and this facility houses state-of-the-art, shared-use food processing space, product development and analytical support laboratories, distance learning and teleconferencing capabilities, thus enabling the Center to provide a higher level of service to business throughout the state; and
WHEREAS, the Rutgers EcoComplex is actively engaged in "Green Business" development and provides advice and assistance to entrepreneurs in the areas of business plan development, technology evaluation and commercialization, and also provides access to laboratories, research personnel, and office space; and
WHEREAS, since 2003, the EcoComplex has assisted over 50 businesses and communities, created over 125 new jobs, assisted in securing over $19.7 million in third-party funding for clients and graduated six successful companies, and has generated revenue by tenant companies to date of $29 million, and has initiated a new green jobs training program in fall 2009, and through all these efforts will help the state fulfill its renewable electricity goals of 20 percent by 2020 as well as spur economic growth in the alternative energy sector; and
WHEREAS, between 1996 and 2003, there was a 100-fold increase (from less than 100,000 in 1996 to over 10 million in 2003) in production of Rutgers disease-resistant oyster seed at Rutgers Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory’s Cape Shore Research hatchery, and commercial aquaculture businesses have thrived as a result, purchasing all of the disease resistant oyster seed that the research hatchery could produce; and
WHEREAS, with the completion of the pilot-scale oyster hatchery at the Multi-species Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (MADF) in 2008, the NJAES stands ready to produce all the disease-resistant seed necessary to supply an expanding oyster aquaculture industry in New Jersey and contribute to the economic development of its coastal communities.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 95th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in East Brunswick, New Jersey, on February 9, 2010, do hereby support the work of the above-mentioned elements of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) and its Board of Managers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly urge the Legislature and Governor to ensure the following in the FY2011 State Budget:
- That adequate funding as recommended by the Board of Managers be budgeted in support of NJAES to meet the diverse needs in the State of New Jersey;
- That a minimum of $500,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the budget be established for the continued operations of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center;
- That a minimum of $300,000 in permanent funding as a line item in the budget be established for the Rutgers EcoComplex; and
- That a minimum of $350,000 in start-up funding be established as a line item in the budget for the Multispecies Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (MADF) at the Rutgers Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory.
As the most densely populated state in the nation, New Jersey faces environmental pressures that far exceed other states. Thus, the environment has become a key quality of life issue for New Jersey citizens. New Jersey has taken the lead in embracing innovative, pro-active and participatory approaches to meeting the needs of its stakeholders. This requires new policies and technologies that are effective in maintaining the delicate balance between environmental quality and economic growth. The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) provides the expertise and information needed to develop effective policies that can strike this balance.
The NJAES (which includes Rutgers Cooperative Extension - RCE) and the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) carry forward the land-grant mission of research, outreach and teaching at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. New Jersey's land grant system is active at every level of development and implementation of innovative solutions to issues facing agriculture, the food industry and the greater statewide community.
Research and extension faculty develop new technologies, services, and activities that contribute directly to 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.
RUTGERS BOARD OF MANAGERS
The Board of Managers serves as a two-way communications link for conveying information between the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) and the agricultural community through the County Boards of Agriculture. Representatives from each County Board of Agriculture ensure grassroots input from the agricultural community to the NJAES. The board also serves as advocate for the experiment station, and provides advice to the executive dean and director of the experiment station on issues that concern the programs of the experiment station. The Board of Managers consists of a representative from each County Board of Agriculture; the President of the University, the Director of NJAES, and the Secretary of Agriculture as ex officio members; and a six-member statewide advisory committee.
The delegates supports the Board of Managers in this advisory role and urges the County Board of Agriculture representatives to fully partake in the responsibilities of the Board of Managers, and maintain the benefits for production agriculture from this longstanding relationship. The delegates urge the NJAES Executive Director and his staff to aggressively engage the Rutgers Board of Managers to more fully utilize the potential of the Board of Managers to provide meaningful substantive input in its advisory role.
RUTGERS FOOD INNOVATION CENTER
The Rutgers Food Innovation Center is an economic development outreach program of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. It provides a direct link for business development and technology expertise from the vast resources of the University and its network of strategic partners to clients located throughout the state. The Center 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 evaluating differentiated new concepts in high-growth sectors, and coping with challenges such as technology transfer, financing, regulations, market development, and infrastructure requirements; established food companies seeking to access and commercialize new technologies, upgrade quality assurance capabilities, enter new markets, and expand and improve their operations; and retail and foodservice establishments seeking to improve their operations and purchase locally grown New Jersey products.
With the completion of its permanent facility, the Food Innovation Center will need to invest in significant start-up costs such as additional personnel and equipment. 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. In previous budget years, the Legislature dedicated $300,000 to the Food Innovation Center.
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. Many industries are now looking to their land grant institution to explore operating practices that can enhance the quality of the environment. Competitive advantages now accrue to the firms and communities that take an aggressive, pro-active environmental stewardship and energy efficiency position. The result is a 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.
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, watershed management and controlled environment agriculture. Educating the public today, in order to deal with tomorrow's issues, are components of the EcoComplex outreach strategy.
RUTGERS MULTISPECIES AQUACULTURE DEMONSTRATION FACILITY (MADF)
The development and production of dual disease-resistant oysters at Rutgers Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory was an essential component in the establishment of an economically viable aquaculture industry in New Jersey. These trademarked oysters have been used in Delaware Bay commercial aquaculture since 1996.
The Multispecies Aquaculture Demonstration Facility (MADF) started operations in May 2008 and houses significant aquaculture research and demonstration programs. It will assist in 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.