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Photo of W. Peter Staats - Click to enlarge
For Immediate Release: February 10, 2011
Contact: Lynne Richmond 
(609) 633-2954              

(CHERRY HILL) – W. Peter Staats, a beef cattle and hay farmer from Somerset County who has had a life-long commitment to giving back to the community, was honored February 8 with a Distinguished Service Citation at the New Jersey Agricultural Convention held in Cherry Hill.

“Peter Staats is not only an innovator on his family farm, but through his lifetime, he has shared his love of farming with young people and the community,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  “His ability to adapt his farm operation as the industry and the needs of consumers changed, has helped it to continue to be viable more than 200 years after it was first founded.”

Staats joined his family’s Dutch Hollow Farm in Bridgewater in 1969 and led it to become one of the first operations in the state to direct market an agricultural commodity by building an on-farm milk processing plant and attached store, allowing visitors to see where their milk and dairy products came from.  The store and processing plant closed in 1987.

“This producer/consumer connection remains extremely important to our agricultural viability to this day, with former milk customers still visiting the farm to purchase beef, eggs, and seasonal vegetables,” said Staats.

Staats developed a Borrow-a-Calf program in the Somerset County 4-H club to allow non-farm youth to learn about animal science and agriculture at no cost and he re-established the New Jersey Junior Polled Hereford Association, allowing young people to exhibit their cattle and compete in Junior National competitions.

Photo of Scott Ellis, Peter Staats, Carol Staats and Secretary Fisher

Left to right, Scott Ellis, President of State Board of Agriculture, W. Peter Staats and his wife, Carol, and Secretary Fisher.

The Staats family was featured in a New Jersey Network documentary, “New Jersey’s Vanishing Farmland,” in the 1970’s, which is still used in classrooms throughout the state today to highlight the challenges facing farmers in the Garden State.

In addition to working with the next generation of farmers and helping the public to understand the importance of agriculture in the state, Staats has been a leader in many agricultural organizations.  He currently serves on the Somerset County Agriculture Development Board and Belle Mead Farmers Cooperative Board of Directors, he chairs the semi-annual New Jersey Polled Hereford Association feeder calf sale, enabling New Jersey beef producers to market an additional 500 head of beef cattle annually at prices that remain largely stable.  He’s a past president of the New Jersey Polled Hereford Association, and was a member of the Somerset County Board of Agriculture, Somerset Union Soil Conservation Committee, and Somerset County 4-H Association.  Peter has also been active in the North Branch Reformed Church for many years.

Dutch Hollow Farm currently is in the Farmland Preservation Program with 60 acres owned and 150 acres rented.

Distinguished Service Citations are awarded to farmers, agricultural leaders and allies of the industry who have made outstanding contributions to agriculture and to enhancing the quality of rural life in New Jersey.  For more information, visit