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February 28, 2007
Gypsy Moth -- The 2007 Gypsy Moth Suppression Aerial Spray Program is scheduled to begin on May 1 in southern counties and May 7 in northern counties.  A total of 35 municipalities and four agencies have agreed to participate, which will include 61,761 acres of forested residential properties in 11 counties.  Those areas will be treated with both single and double applications of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (B.t.k.) to protect trees from defoliation by gypsy moth caterpillars.  The spray program is a voluntary cooperative effort between local governments, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the USDA Forest Service.  The Forest Service has not yet committed to any federal funding for this year’s project for reimbursement to participating municipalities.

Humane Standards Decision -- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s comprehensive standards for the humane treatment and care of livestock in New Jersey were upheld February 16 by a state appeals panel.  In a decision addressing the challenge filed by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the panel wrote:  “The regulations are not arbitrary or unreasonable or in derogation of the statutory mandate.”  In upholding the rules, the judges determined that the Department’s expertise and experience were entitled to their deference. The standards were approved in 2004 to protect livestock by providing a clear baseline for determining when inhumane treatment occurs, ensuring that treatment that falls below that baseline can be accurately identified and promptly addressed by all applicable enforcement authorities.  The regulations established standards for the humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing and sale of domestic livestock and cover horses, donkeys, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, alpaca, captive deer, poultry and rabbits. They apply to livestock farm operations as well as hobbyists or other individuals who own these types of animals. 

TDR Grant Announced -- Secretary Kuperus, joined by Assemblyman Douglas H. Fisher, presented a $20,000 check to Mannington Township Mayor Donald Asay this week. The check represents the first installment in a $40,000 planning assistance grant approved by the State Transfer of Development Rights Bank. The matching grant will help the Salem County municipality conduct the planning necessary to explore TDR and implement a successful TDR program to preserve land in its agriculture district by directing development to yet-to-be-designated receiving areas with public sewer and water capacity. Mannington Township ranks fourth in the state in farmland-assessed land with approximately 18,500 acres. The township will receive the remaining $20,000 of the grant once it has developed a TDR ordinance and submitted it to the State Planning Commission for plan endorsement. 

GSPT Funding -- SADC Executive Director Susan Craft testified Tuesday evening at the first of three public hearings scheduled by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on the Garden State Preservation Trust needs assessment for the farmland, open space and historic preservation programs. She spoke about farmland preservation progress to date and the need to maintain current momentum of the program, which has averaged $130 million in annual farmland preservation appropriations over the past four years.

Farmland Preservation Summit -- The 2nd annual Farmland Preservation Summit will be held Friday, March 2nd, at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick. Topics of discussion will include proposed rules to streamline the farmland preservation process and how they will affect counties and municipalities, key developments in right to farm, stewardship of preserved farmland and innovative strategies to retain agriculture. The summit is sponsored by the State Agriculture Development Committee and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University.

New JerseySeafood Catch -- The latest findings by the National Marine Fisheries Service show that the value of New Jersey’s commercial seafood catch increased $13 million in 2005.  The harvest was worth $159 million, up from $146 million in 2004.  The National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that for every one dollar of landed value, six dollars are generated in the overall economy, bringing the value of New Jersey’s wild harvest to $954 million.  New Jersey is home to six major commercial fishing ports, with four ranked among the top fifty ports in the nation in terms of value of the harvest:  Cape May was the fifth largest commercial fishing port in the nation, bringing in 74.6 million pounds valued at $68.4 million in 2005.  In 2005, almost 100 different species of finfish and shellfish were landed.  The top species by dollar value harvested in New Jersey included:  sea scallops -$88.5 million and surf clams-$20 million.

Animal Emergency Working Group Symposium -- Local, county and state emergency management and animal control officers learned how to put on Personal Protective Equipment, swab chickens for Avian Influenza testing and clean their vehicles after a visit to a farm during the 10th Annual Animal Emergency Working Group (AEWG) Symposium on February 26 in Freehold.  The AEWG oversees state and county animal response teams and operates under the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health and the State Police Office of Emergency Management.  The group is charged with developing plans to help animals affected by emergencies, such as floods, forest fires or terrorist attacks.

Economic Development Strategies -- A total of 97 for of the Department’s 2006 Economic Development Strategies 10 sectors of the agriculture industry were completed or were making progress toward completion at the end of 2006.  It was announced at the 2007 New Jersey State Agricultural Convention on February 13 that a total of 121 Economic Development Strategies had been identified and submitted to the delegates for the current year.  As in previous years, the progress of each of these strategies will be tracked and a final status report of the strategies will be presented at the 2008 Agricultural Convention.

New JerseyHorse Person of the Year – Rick Wills, owner of Rick’s Saddle Shop in Englishtown and Cream Ridge, was presented with the 2006 Governor’s Trophy on January 28 at the 50th Annual New Jersey Breeder’s Dinner in Freehold, which celebrates the state’s best in the equine field. 

National Conservation Poster Contest Winners -- Four New Jersey students earned top honors in the National Conservation (NACD) Poster Contest, designed to raise awareness of natural resources and related issues among young people.  Eugene Han of Mahwah placed first in the Grades 2-3 category; Jessica Chu of Livingston placed first in Grades 4-6; Angel Liu of Hackettstown placed first in Grades 7-9; and, Allen Lin of Holmdel, a past national poster contest winner, placed first in Grades 10-12.  The competition is sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts and the NACD Auxiliary in cooperation with the Washington County Soil Conservation District in Maryland.  Each student received a $100 prize.  The students’ posters illustrated the theme of “Water Wise.” One hundred and fifty-three posters from 33 states were entered in the 16th annual contest.  Of the 15 winning posters chosen nationwide, New Jersey students produced four, all taking first place in their grade level categories.