skip to main content skip to main navigation

January 18, 2006

Disaster Declaration -- United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has designated all New Jersey counties except Hudson and Union as natural disaster areas due to the extreme weather between June 1 and October 6, 2005. The designation allows those producers affected by the weather to apply for low-interest emergency loans. The loans will be administered through Farm Services Agency. Farm operators must be able prove that they suffered losses of 30 percent or greater. If approved, the loans can cover up to 100 percent of the dollar value of the losses.

Ag Development Initiative Op-Ed
-- An opinion-editorial piece on the new Agricultural Development Initiative by Secretary Kuperus appeared on the American Farm web site in the week of January 16. The article detailed the broad scope of the initiative, comparing its importance to that of the Farmland Assessment, Right to Farm Act and Farmland Preservation programs. In part, the piece read: “Clearly, the time has come for another initiative that addresses the foremost challenge faced by New Jersey farmers today – the high cost of doing business. The Department of Agriculture, recognizing the overwhelming need for such action, is working with leading farmers, Rutgers University’s Cook College and other state agencies to devise a package of services that will help farmers increase productivity and profitability.”

Vegetable Growers -- During a speech to the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey at their annual conference in Atlantic City on January 11, Secretary Kuperus spoke on four major topics. He gave an update on the Jersey Fresh campaign; gave an overview of the economic dev strategies for agriculture; announced that Matty Matarazzo will introduce the Vegetable Industry Marketing Task Force; and, outlined the Agricultural Development Initiative.

Garden State Dairy Alliance Conference
-- The Dairy Alliance will hold “2006 New Jersey Dairy Summit” on February 21 and 22 in the north and the south. The summit will afford producers, and other dairy industry stakeholders the opportunity to express their ideas on the future direction of the Dairy Alliance. Discussion topics may include management teams, financial planning, business planning, economic development, communication and marketing resources, availability of dairy related services, educational programs, legislative challenges and other relative issues.

Disaster Relief -- The first load of hay, shipped to the Gulf States on November 26, 2005, arrived at its intended destination on January 4, 2006 and has been disbursed to local entities for distribution to livestock producers. Department staff is in the process of coordinating a second collection of hay, grain and fencing materials for the Gulf area hit by the Katrina and Rita hurricanes. In addition, we are reviewing the process of getting such items shipped in an economic and timely manner in order to facilitate the development of a model for other states.

Equine Awards -- The Chapot Family of Neshanic Station is the recipient of the Horseperson of the Year Governor’s Trophy. They will receive their award at the Annual Equine Breeder Awards dinner on January 28 at Freehold Gardens Hotel in Freehold. Standardbred and Thoroughbred of the Year award recipients also will be honored. In other equine news, Kelsey Hockenberger, a 15-year-old honor student from Lenape High School in Medford, Burlington County, was named the 2006 New Jersey Equestrian of the Year at the New Jersey Farm Bureau’s 2005 Convention.

Outstanding Young Farmer -- The 2006 Outstanding Young Farmer, Joe Marino, has been selected as one of the 20 finalists in the National Outstanding Young Farmer competition. He will travel to Moline, Illinois February 9 – 12 for the awards congress to see if he has been chosen as one of the four National Outstanding Young Farmers.

Diamond Pet Food -- The Division of Animal Health contacted the state’s network of animal care providers to watch for a potential life-threatening illness among dogs and cats. The Department was informed in late December that Diamond Pet Food had removed its dog and cat food from sale after the dangerous toxin aflatoxin was found in a product manufactured at the company’s facility in Gaston, South Carolina. That plant supplies pet foods to New Jersey as well as New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and other East Coast states. High-level aflatoxin exposure produces acute liver problems, which cause internal bleeding. There can be excessive fluid build up in tissue, alteration in digestion, and problems with absorption and/or metabolism of nutrients.

Asian Longhorned Beetle -- Tree removal operations in the Carteret/Linden/Woodbridge/Rahway infestation area resumed on December 12, 2005. Approximately 5,700 host trees are targeted for removal. To date, more than 1,100 trees have been removed. For three weeks prior to Christmas, three tree climbers from Chicago were in Linden working to help complete the survey of a critical area adjacent to the latest positive find. No addition infested trees were found.

Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource Education Improvement Grants Awarded -- Five grants were awarded to schools in our annual AFNR Ed Equipment Improvement Grant program for a total of $25,000. The objective of the grant program is to improve and upgrade equipment/facilities for school-based Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource (AFNR) education programs. These programs in secondary schools prepare people for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. Each school was awarded $5,000 for projects that include equipment and materials for food science, landscape, turf and golf course management programs. Requests also included wireless laptop units, and landscape design software. Successful grantees were Union County Vocational School, Burlington County Institute of Technology, Ocean County Vocational School, Penns Grove High School and Cape May Vocational School.

Food Visits -- Secretary Kuperus continued his drive against hunger December 20 by helping to serve a Christmas lunch to more than 200 people at the Goodwill Rescue Mission in Newark and distribute holiday food packages, including either a turkey or a ham, while visiting the food pantry at St. Vincent dePaul Society of St. Lawrence Church in Lindenwold.