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March 23, 2016

Gypsy Moth Suppression Program – The Department is planning for the 2016 Aerial Suppression program with 19 municipalities and three county parks in Cape May, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Salem, Sussex and Warren Counties have opted for treatment using Bacillus thuringiensis, var.kurstaki, (B.t.k.) on a total of 17,487 acres. Nine municipalities in Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren Counties, totaling 2,791 acres, opted not to participate. All treatments in the program will be made using a single application of Btk (FORAY 76B).

Specialty Crop Block Grant Applications -- The Agriculture is now accepting applications for 2016 United States Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grants. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture, nursery crops and floriculture.  Most of New Jersey agriculture falls into the specialty crop category. To be eligible for a grant, projects must "enhance the competitiveness" of specialty crops and might include, but are not limited to: research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs, education, "buy local" programs, increased consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation, product development and developing cooperatives. Click here to download the application packet..  The deadline for submitting applications is May 18, 2016.  In 2015, 10 projects were awarded more than $645,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grants for a variety of uses this year, including education, marketing, production research and the promotion of New Jersey agricultural products.

Farm to School – The Department launched the new Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition and Award program on March 1 to find the top school in the state participating in farm to school activities. The program also will recognize schools that work with farmers and the community to ensure students have access to healthy Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in their school cafeterias and teach about agriculture through growing school gardens. Applications are now available for the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Recognition and Award program at The deadline to complete and submit the application is June 1. One exemplary school that provides the most extensive number of meaningful Farm to School activities will be presented with the “Best in New Jersey Farm to School Award” during Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week September 26-30, 2016. Schools that meet the criteria in the application will be acknowledged for their Farm to School efforts by receiving a Jersey Fresh Farm to School promotional materials kit, including a Jersey Fresh Farm to School banner, aprons, pencils, pins, key chains, seasonality charts and media templates to announce this recognition. In addition, the Department held its first Farm to School Summit on March 16. More than 150 school administrators, food service directors, farmers and other interested parties attended the event in East Windsor. Attendees received real information about how to start, maintain and grow farm to school programs.

School Breakfast Week – Secretary Fisher and Patricia Dombroski, U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Mid Atlantic Regional Administrator, celebrated National School Breakfast Week on March 7 by visiting two Atlantic City High School classrooms to see the breakfast program in action. Atlantic City High School adopted Breakfast After the Bell in September 2014 and since then, the number of students eating breakfast every day has increased by 22 percent. Fisher and Dombroski visited the ROTC and Radio classes, consisting of various grade level students. Breakfast consisted of 100 percent fruit juice, 1% milk, fresh fruit, whole grain muffins, pop tarts, granola bars and bagels. Eighty-five percent of Atlantic City High School’s 2,000 students eat breakfast in the classroom at the beginning of their first period classes, up from just 20 percent when breakfast was served in the cafeteria before the start of the school day. New Jersey has seen one of the largest increases in the nation in breakfast participation. The 2014-2015 Food Research and Action Center’s School Breakfast Scorecard advanced the state to 23rd in the nation for increasing the percent of low-income students who receive a healthy morning meal at the start of the school day. New Jersey ranked 28th last year and 46th in 2011. On March 8, Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario joined Dombroski for a visit to Drum Point School in Brick Township to see their breakfast program. On March 22, Tricario spoke about the Department’s strides in increasing school breakfast participation at The Invisible Thread "Mending the School Environment for Academic Excellence" Forum at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

CACFP Week -- Division of Food and Nutrition Director Rose Tricario commemorated Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Week on March 14 with a visit to Monmouth Day Care Center in Red Bank, where they feed 120 children a day breakfast, lunch and a snack through the CACFP. Tricario helped serve the youngest children a lunch of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, fruit cocktail and milk. Monmouth Day Care Center joined the CACFP in 1987. Heather Martinho, the center’s early Childhood Education Coordinator, said the CACFP has helped to offset their food costs as well as educated the staff and children on proper nutrition. Governor Christie proclaimed March 13-19 as Child and Adult Care Food Program Week in New Jersey, based on National CACFP Week, a national education and information campaign sponsored annually by the National CACFP Sponsors Association. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of how the Child and Adult Care Food Program works to combat hunger and bring healthy foods to the table for adults in day care and children in child care homes, centers, and in afterschool feeding programs across the country. In New Jersey, the CACFP provides meals and snacks to 85,593 eligible participants at 1,835 shelters, day care centers, family day care homes, after-school care programs and adult day care centers under the sponsorship of more than 600 New Jersey institutions. The program is federally funded and administered by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

National Agriculture Day – Secretary Fisher attended the Somerset County Agriculture Development Board’s National Agriculture Day event on March 15 in Somerville, speaking to the group about the importance of supporting agriculture in our state. The Department distributed a press release to the state’s media about National Agriculture Day and the status of agriculture in the Garden State.

FFA Horticultural Exposition -- Students from 27 middle and high schools participated in the New Jersey FFA Horticultural Exposition on March 11-12. More than 775 entries were pre-registered for the Expo and 20 chapters and 80 students participated in the Floral Design competition. Twenty industry representatives served as judges throughout the event and three leadership workshops were held for students to attend while at the Expo. Channel 6 news covered the event which broadcasted a clip with Secretary Fisher, State FFA President Hope Cahill and a Union County Agriculture teacher. The Cumberland Regional FFA chapter won the Floral Design competition and will be recognized at the State FFA Convention.

FFA Advocacy and Legislative Leadership Day – Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno spoke to nearly 300 FFA members, advisors, agriculture and education leaders, and legislators the event in Trenton on February 25. This year’s event focused on “Agnovation.” Secretary Fisher presented the State FFA President with a proclamation for FFA Week. Student attendees took part in a college/career fair, leadership brunch and participated in various workshops. Chapter presidents also visited the New Jersey State House. Teacher workshops were conducted during the day.

Equestrian of the Year -- Pier Semanchik, a 16-year-old Hackettstown High School Junior, was named the 2016 New Jersey Equestrian of the Year by the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board on January 25 at the annual New Jersey Breeder’s Luncheon in Eastampton. She represented the New Jersey Horse Council. As Equestrian of the Year, Pier will attend functions hosted by the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board and represent the Board at functions. Pier lives on a 115-acre farm in Great Meadows that specializes in crop production and horse boarding. She owns two registered Appaloosas and shows her 13-year-old mare, Hot Little Chip, also known as Mojo, in western pleasure, showmanship and horsemanship.