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February 24, 2016

National Outstanding Young Farmer -- New Jersey’s 2016 Outstanding Young Farmer, Jessica Niederer of Chickadee Creek Farm in Hopewell Township was selected as a national winner at the 60th annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress held February 11-14 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Niederer was one of four national winners selected from a group of 10 finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices and contributions to the well-being of the community, state and nation. The three other national winners were from Connecticut, North Dakota and Washington. The winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. during National Ag Week in 2017. Niederer grew up on her parents’ farm and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Natural Resources. Finally, Jess came home to become the 13th generation of Niederer farmers. After coming back to Hopewell Township in 2010, Niederer leased five acres of land from the family farm for Chickadee Creek Farm on which she started growing her produce on two of the acres. Since then, she has increased production to 17 acres, sells through Community Supported Agriculture, attends five farmers markets and has become a certified organic grower.

State Income Tax Check-off FundsCommunity Food Pantry Fund -- New Jersey taxpayers have an opportunity to assist those in need in the Garden State through a fund that pays for food purchases at the state’s food banks.  Contributions to the Community Food Pantry Fund can be made while filling out the 2015 New Jersey income tax forms this year. Since the Community Food Pantry Fund check-off was created in 2010, more than $117,000 has been distributed to Community Foodbank of New Jersey, Hillside; Food Bank of South Jersey, Pennsauken; FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Neptune; Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, Vineland; Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, Ewing; and NORWESCAP, Phillipsburg.  The money was used to purchase healthy foods to distribute to the hungry through food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The check-off was first available on the 2010 tax year forms.  It allows taxpayers to either contribute a portion of their tax refund or make a donation.  Money collected for the fund administered by the Department of Agriculture must be used exclusively for food purchases.   Those wishing to contribute should enter the code “09” on Line 64 to designate this check-off item on their NJ-1040 income tax form. Farm to School and School Garden Fund -- New Jersey taxpayers may support Farm to School activities in the Garden State through the “Farm to School and School Garden Fund.” This “check-off” can be found on Line 64, number 19, on the 2015 New Jersey State income tax form. This new fund was established to allow taxpayers to donate a portion of their tax refund or make a contribution to help establish school gardens and purchase equipment and educational materials to promote students' consumption of local produce. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Program works to connect schools with New Jersey farmers to source more than 100 types of Jersey Fresh produce grown here in the Garden State.

Jersey Fresh Online Store Launched -- During the annual State of the State of Agriculture address at the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher announced the launch of a new official online store selling items bearing the Jersey Fresh logo.  Jersey Fresh is the popular and widely recognized symbol of the Department of Agriculture’s promotional campaign for New Jersey agricultural products. The online store can be found at  Items available for purchase include clothing, hats, mugs, aprons, bags, smartphone cases, and car magnets. Jersey Fresh is an advertising, promotional and quality grading program launched in 1984 to help farmers inform consumers about the availability and variety of fruits and vegetables grown in New Jersey.  Through the many years of the program, consumers’ awareness has increased and Jersey Fresh has become the benchmark for other states that initiate their own state-grown agricultural marketing programs.

Gypsy Moth Aerial Suppression Program – The 2016 gypsy moth spray program is taking shape with 19 municipalities and three county parks in Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren Counties opting for treatment using Bacillus thuringiensis, var.kurstaki, (B.t.k.) on a total of 17,699 acres. Nine municipalities in Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren Counties with 2,791 acres originally proposed for spraying opted not to participate. Spraying will take place in May and early June.

Avian Influenza -- The Department is continuing to prepare for a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. The recent HPAI outbreak that occurred in Indiana on January 15, 2016 showed how a quick and efficient response can eliminate this virus and prevent its spread. More than 400,000 birds were depopulated in Indiana. Since then, no new cases of HPAI have been discovered in birds and there have been no human cases identified in the United States. The Department is working with the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) to design a HPAI table top exercise (TTX) that would test the updated HPAI Emergency Response Plan. Participants in this TTX will include NJDA, the United States Department of Agriculture-Veterinary Service, New Jersey support agencies and non-governmental organizations. The TTX is planned for April 2016.

Emerald Ash Borer Webinar – The Emerald Ash Borer Task Force presented a webinar for the New Jersey League of Municipalities on February 17, outlining the spread of the beetle, the potential impact on ash trees across the state and what municipalities can do to prepare. The one-hour long presentation was viewed by 31 participants from towns around the state.

Animal Emergency Working Group Symposium – The Department’s Animal Emergency Working Group (AEWG) will hold its 18th Annual Symposium at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, April 25 at the Burlington County Emergency Service Training Center in Westampton to prepare animal emergency responders for the challenges they might face in a disaster. During the daylong seminar, attendees will get hands-on experience in small animal restraint and handling exotics in a county animal response team (CART) shelter. They will participate in a panel discussion about managing distraught or emotional animal owners and hear a speaker on how to handle vaccination status, rabies suspects and bite wounds in a CART shelter. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture, under the auspices of AEWG, develops and coordinates plans to protect animals during emergency situations. It oversees state and county animal response teams that work in the field during disasters and emergencies. The AEWG operates under the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health and the New Jersey State Police, Office of Emergency Management.

Jr. Breeder’s Livestock Symposium -- An educational symposium for adults and children will be held 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2 at Rutgers University’s Cook Campus, former New Jersey Agriculture Museum Building, 100 College Farm Rd., New Brunswick. A wide variety of valuable and interesting agricultural topics will be discussed and there will be many opportunities for hands-on experience. The day will feature sessions on poultry, sheep and goats biosecurity, parasites and common infections in dairy cattle, dairy hoof trimming and care, fundamentals for great egg production at home, hog handling and restraint, horse behavior and skeletal anatomy of the horse.  The annual Dairy Clip-off and Equine Anatomy Jeopardy will take place. The Sheep and Goat Video Contest/Film Festival will again be held this year. The film festival will take place at the Round House as the final session of the sheep and goat track of the symposium. To participate, students must be registered for the symposium and must be in grades 4-13. Entries must educate the audience on some aspect of sheep and goats; be 3 minutes or less in length; be the original work of the youth; be created from January-March 2015; and include the names of all youth responsible for the creation of the video in the credits. Videos must be submitted by the end of the day on March 14.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus – A memorial video about the late former Secretary can be viewed here: