For Immediate Release: January 20, 2005
Contact: Lynne Richmond (609)292-8896
(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today announced the launching of the Garden State Dairy Alliance, a team with state and federal partners that will help sustain a viable dairy industry in New Jersey.
The Alliance will concern itself with such issues as animal health, milk quality, marketing and dairy industry development, bio-security and nutrient management.
“We want to offer New Jersey dairy farmers and their supporting industries the comprehensive resources and assistance they need to provide unity and to coordinate the direction and future of the dairy industry in this state,” Secretary Kuperus told farmer members of the Sussex County Cooperative Milk Producers Association and Garden State Family Farms during their meeting at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. “This Alliance will help make New Jersey’s dairy industry stronger through focused promotion and state-of-the-art regulation. It establishes a public and private partnership to ensure a competitive, profitable dairy industry in New Jersey.”
Three of the Alliance’s major components will be:
- Animal Health and Herd Management: Creating for New Jersey’s dairy farmers a 21st-century program of maintaining their herds. Federal resources will be tapped in that effort.
- Comprehensive Milk Quality Program: Ensuring New Jersey’s dairy products enjoy the highest reputation for quality.
- Marketing and Promotion: From general marketing of milk and other dairy products to developing
“value-added” products such as “Jersey Fresh” milk and specialty cheeses, the Alliance will aid in
raising the profile of New Jersey’s dairy industry.
Secretary Kuperus has championed the idea of a “Jersey Fresh” milk brand since his early days as secretary. In his tenure as Agriculture Secretary, the Department committed more than $50,000 in cash and in-kind services toward a $107,000 matching funds grant for the project.
“We have seen a great spirit of innovation lately in New Jersey’s dairy industry,” said Secretary Kuperus. “The plans for a Jersey Fresh milk brand and movement toward a line of specialty cheeses created with milk from New Jersey herds illustrates that our state’s dairy industry is far from waning. It is alive with fresh ideas.”
A web site devoted to the Dairy Alliance also was launched as part of today’s announcement. It can be found at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/dairyalliance.htm.
New Jersey’s dairy industry has seen the closing of more than half its farms over the past decade. The state’s milk production in 1991 totaled 349 million pounds, valued at $54 million. By 2003, those totals had dropped to 216 million pounds, with a value of $27.6 million.
The industry was dealt a blow in 2003 when Parmalat USA’s parent company in Italy declared bankruptcy amid a financial scandal that took even banking institutions dealing with the company by surprise. As a result, many of New Jersey’s milk producers were left uncertain about whether they’d be paid for milk already sold to Parmalat on credit. The state’s bonding laws were subsequently changed to provide agricultural producers more security against brokers and buyers who might not be able to make good on credit purchases.
“The Garden State Dairy Alliance is the next step in making sure New Jersey’s dairy producers have the support they need to keep the industry viable,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Today’s
announcement is the first part of a three-year effort in implementing and expanding
all the components of the Alliance.”