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February 18, 2015

New Jersey State Agricultural Convention – The 100th New Jersey State Agricultural Convention and Trade Show was held February 3-5 at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City.  Much was accomplished during the gathering.  On Wednesday, February 4, Senate President Stephen Sweeney spoke to the delegates, reiterating his support for agriculture.  He introduced the group to the new Third District Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro.  Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Bob Andrzejczak and Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo also addressed the delegates. 

The FFA speaker was State FFA President Kristianne Dowd of Freehold who urged farmers to be proactive and tell their story to avoid misconceptions about the food they grow.

The following awards were presented Wednesday afternoon:  Patrick Mullen Quality Grading Award – Muzzarelli Farms in Vineland; Farmers Against Hunger Award – Donio Inc. of Hammonton; New Jersey Commercial Fishing Industry Award – Erling Berg of Cape May.

Wednesday night, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno met for a brief, private meeting with the State Board of Agriculture and then greeted the New Jersey Agricultural Youth Ambassadors at the Delegates’ Dinner.  During her speech to the 500 people gathered for the dinner, Lt. Governor Guadagno spoke about the importance of educating the next generation of New Jersey farmers and praised the CASE program.

At the dinner, the State Board of Agriculture presented it Outstanding Young Farmer award to Wantage dairy farmer, Henry Byma and Distinguished Service to Agriculture Citations to Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Atlantic County agriculture agent Richard VanVranken and retired Cooperative Extension of Essex County agriculture agent Jack Kupcho.  A special presentation was made in memory of David Klemm, a State Board of Agriculture member who passed away last year during his term.

Thursday, the 4-H speaker was Harlee Peterson of Franklin Township, Hunterdon County.  She spoke of the skills and confidence she gained from being a leader in various 4-H clubs and how she is now mentoring the younger members.  Born and raised on a tree farm, she plans to pursue a career in education or special education.

Over the course of the convention, delegates approved 38 resolutions, setting agriculture policy for the next year.  They heard presentations from: USDA State Directors Paul Hlubik of Farm Service Agency and Carrie Mosley of Natural Resources Conservation Service;
Michael Alston, USDA Risk Management Agency on crop insurance; Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station directors Bradley Hillman and Larry Katz; Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Burlington County agriculture agent Bill Bamka on Palmer Amaranth weed which is a problem with soybeans; NJDA Division of Food and Nutrition Director Rose Tricario on the Farm to School Program; Dr. Joseph Bischoff, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs Director, AmericanHort, on the challenges faced by pollinators.

The final action of the convention was the election of two new State Board of Agriculture members, Angelo Trapani – beekeeping and Shirley Kline – vegetables, as well as Erick Doyle – livestock, to fill to fill David Klemm’s unexpired term.  Those elected will be considered by Governor Christie for nomination.  The delegates also elected George Conover, Phil Brodhecker and Jeffrey Link as farmer members of the NJ Fish and Game Council.