Gypsy Moth Aerial Suppression Program -- The Department has proposed spraying 20,354 acres in 27 municipalities and one county park system in Cape May, Salem, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties this year to combat the tree-killing gypsy moth caterpillar. The Department of Agriculture held an informational session in Trenton on January 6 to outline its 2016 Aerial Gypsy Moth Suppression program. Egg mass surveys were conducted from August to December and treatment is proposed for areas of: Middle and Upper Townships in Cape May County; Upper Pittsgrove Township in Salem County; Holland, Bethlehem and Alexandria Townships in Hunterdon County; Boonton, Jefferson, Montville, Washington, and Rockaway Townships, Kinnelon Borough and areas of three county parks in Morris County - Mahlon Dickerson, Silas Condict and Pyramid Mountain Park; Bloomingdale and Ringwood boroughs, West Milford Township in Passaic County; Hampton, Sparta, Stillwater, Vernon, Wantage and Frankford Townships in Sussex County; and Blairstown, Frelinghuysen, Liberty, Hardwick, Knowlton and White Townships in Warren County. Participation in the program is voluntary. If the towns agree, spraying would take place in May and June. To qualify for the spray program, a residential or recreational forest must have an average of more than 500 egg masses per acre and be at least 50 acres in size. A single egg mass contains up to 1,000 eggs. In addition to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) spray program, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is planning to spray 880 acres on 13 state properties in Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties. These include high use areas such as campgrounds, picnic and swimming areas, historic sites, along the Appalachian Trail and adjacent to some NJDA spray blocks.
USDA Foods Conference -- More than 400 school food service professionals and business administrators from around New Jersey previewed the newest healthy school lunch and breakfast offerings available from food manufacturers for the 2016-2017 school year on January 21 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture presented the Fourth Annual USDA Foods Conference to showcase healthy school lunch and breakfast offerings that could appear in school cafeterias around the state next school year. The conference featured a vendor show of the latest trends in prepared school menu items made from U.S. Department of Agriculture donated bulk foods that also meet the nutritional requirements of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act school food regulations implemented in 2013. The USDA Foods Distribution program allows schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to utilize USDA foods and distribute them to processors who make nutritious, reduced-fat, lower sodium, whole grain products at a cost savings to school districts. The conference gave school food service professionals the opportunity to sample the foods and speak directly with manufacturers to meet their district's specific needs, helping them to determine which foods to order for the 2016-2017 school year. This year, there were many creative options including, chicken patty sliders, vegetable whole wheat lo mein, chicken egg rolls boil-in-bag real mashed potatoes and pre-washed baked potatoes.
Cumberland County Food Summit -- Secretary Fisher, Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario and staff members attended the "Need To Feed" Food Summit in Vineland on January 20. The Summit was sponsored by Gateway Community Action Partnership, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Community Food Bank of New Jersey and others. The focus was on working together to increase access to nutritious meals for at-risk children and determine the barriers that are preventing available programs from reaching those children. Secretary Fisher outlined the Department's feeding programs and the progress that has been made in school breakfast participation and expansion of the Summer Food Service Program. Stephanie Sutton-Page, the Department's Summer Food Service Program assistant coordinator, led a panel discussion about the state and federal feeding programs offered in New Jersey. Beth Feehan, the Department's Farm to School Program Coordinator sat on the panel and Director Tricario and Summer Food Service Program Coordinator Cherrie Walker acted as panel resources. The day was hosted by Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly, who has been instrumental in expanding the reach of current programs to more children in his community and all of Cumberland County.
Equine Herpes Virus -- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed on December 24 that 3 horses at a Bucks County horse farm were euthanized due to infection with the neurologic form of EHV-1 (EHM). The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantined the farm from the first signs of disease. Trace back information indicated one of the affected horses was in a show in New Jersey 10 days prior to the onset of the disease. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture contacted the exposed farm and monitored for any signs of the disease. No New Jersey horses were found to have contracted the virus. EHV-1 spreads quickly from horse to horse, has a high morbidity, and can cause a wide range of symptoms from a complete lack of clinical signs, to respiratory problems (especially in young horses), and spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares. Transmission of the virus is mostly via direct contact with infected materials; therefore, tack must not be shared between horses and biosecurity measures must be utilized. While highly infectious, the virus does not persist in the environment and is neutralized by hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and sunlight. More information on the Equine Herpes Virus can be found at the Agriculture website.
Horseperson of the Year Award -- The 2015 Governor's Award for Horseperson of the Year was awarded to Judy Hennessy, who has fostered the growth of young equestrians in New Jersey 4-H programs for more than four decades. Secretary Fisher presented Hennessy with her award on January 25 at the annual Breeders Luncheon in Eastampton. Judy Hennessy began volunteering in the Somerset County4-H Youth Development Program in 1972. She has served as the leader of Chaps N Spurs 4-H Club, a county 4-H horse program coordinator and education program coach. She coordinates two county 4-H qualifying horse shows each year and two tents full of horses and 4-H members for the three days of continuous shows at the Somerset County 4-H Fair. Hennessy is the New Jersey State Hippology Coach and meets with the team once a week, writes study guides for the members and participates in fundraising activities to pay for the trip to Louisville, KY, where the group competes at the national level. Hippology is the 4-H equine knowledge contest. Judy is a member of the New Jersey State 4-H Horse Project Advisory Council, which meets four times a year to provide advice to the 4-H staff and help coordinate the state 4-H horse events. A committee of past horsepersons of the year awarded the honor to Hennessy for her dedication to horses and many accomplishments with the 4-H youth equine program.
Emerald Ash Borer - The Emerald Ash Borer Task Force will offer a webinar through the New Jersey League of Municipalities on Wednesday, February 17 to engage local government officials in a discussion on preparing for and managing ash trees impacted by the emerald ash borer beetle. The hour-long session will include presentations from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Protection and Rutgers University. In addition, Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory staff visited the USDA Brighton, Michigan Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) biological control laboratory, where there are currently four parasitic wasps being reared as potential biological control agents. PABIL is interested in rearing two of the larval parasitoids, Spathius agrili and Tetrastichus planipennisi to provide back-up colonies and increase the numbers of parasitoids available for release to fight EAB.
New FFA Chapter -- New Jersey FFA Association chartered the Bergen County Academies FFA Chapter on December 14, 2015. The state FFA officers conducted the official chapter chartering ceremony in front of new chapter members, administrators, the advisor, advisory chapter members and esteemed guests. The ceremony was concluded with the signing of their official charter. Following the ceremony, representatives from the State FFA Association networked with industry representatives and guests, and were given a tour of the facilities. The Bergen County Academies FFA chapter has already participated in New Jersey FFA leadership development conferences and has aspirations to compete in this year's Agriscience fair.