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August 24, 2005

New State Board of Agriculture Members Sworn In -- Robert J. Matarazzo of White Township, Warren County, and Noble F. McNaughton of Tabernacle, Burlington County, were sworn in to their terms during the Board’s reorganization meeting at the Mercer County Boathouse in West Windsor on Tuesday, August 2, 2005. They were selected for the positions by the delegates to last January’s State Agricultural Convention, and later nominated by Acting Governor Richard J. Codey and confirmed by the State Senate.

Green Energy Event -- Media from throughout the region converged on the Lee Turkey Farm in East Windsor on Monday, August 8, as the Department of Agriculture joined with the New Jersey Farm Bureau, Board of Public Utilities and the Sun Farm Network to highlight agriculture’s role in the emerging world of Green Energy. Lee Turkey Farm in particular was celebrating one year of using a solar-power system that has significantly cut the farm’s monthly electric utility bill. Also discussed at the event was New Jersey farmers’ possible role as the growers of corn and soybean as feed stocks for creating ethanol and bio-diesel, respectively. The Department also forwarded a memo to the Governor for consideration, detailing how the State can aid in the use and production of Green Energy. Governor Signs MTBE Bill: Subsequent to the event and memo, Acting Governor Codey signed S-2018, the so-called “MTBE bill,” on August 18, phasing out the use of the gasoline additive MTBE by January 2009. As ethanol is the only viable alternative to MTBE, the bill should boost production of the corn-based fuel additive.

Supermarket Visits -- Secretary Kuperus visited the Super Foodtown of Ocean, in Monmouth County, n August 9 for the Food Circus Jersey Fresh event. The Secretary and 2005 Peach Queen greeted Food Circus executives, employees and customers. On August 12, Secretary Kuperus talked to children from the Boys and Girls Club of Wayne about healthy eating at the Stop and Shop of Wayne, part of an effort to show appreciation to supermarkets that make a concerted effort to buy Jersey Fresh produce.

Youth Farmstand/Farmers Market Tour -- Secretary Kuperus joined state legislators in tours of a Youth Farmstand in Bayonne and three Community Farmers Markets on Thursday, August 18. State Senator and Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria joined Secretary Kuperus at the Bayonne Youth Farmstand Project, where residents have been able to buy freshly picked Jersey Fresh produce this summer from 11 Bayonne High School students outside City Hall, as well as at satellite locations near senior housing around the city. The tour continued at community farmers markets with visits to Common Greens Farmers Market in downtown Newark, Bloomfield Farmers Markets and Rahway Farmers Market, where the Secretary was joined by local Assemblywoman Linda Stender.

First Equine Encephalitis Case -- The death of a 2-year-old quarter horse mare in Gloucester County has been attributed to infection with Equine Eastern Encephalitis (EEE). This is the first diagnosis of EEE, a mosquito-borne virus, in a horse in New Jersey this year. EEE is a rare but serious disease that causes an inflammation of the brain tissue. Young horses lacking the protection afforded by vaccination are particularly susceptible to infection. EEE has a significantly higher risk of death than West Nile infection. In 2004, there were six confirmed cases of EEE in horses in New Jersey, with one of them also having West Nile virus. That was down from eight confirmed cases in 2003.

Equine Op-ed -- An opinion piece designed to boost the state’s equine industry ran this month in the Trenton Times, Asbury Park Press, New Jersey Herald and New Jersey Farmer, and generated some positive feedback. The article talked about the many important aspects of the equine industry, emphasizing that the industry as a whole would be affected by success or failure in any one segment. A great deal of economic activity in the state – from big-time horseracing events and breeding farms to sales at tack shops and hay farms – hinges on the strength of the whole industry. The Department’s Equine Working Group continues to meet to brainstorm ideas for boosting the state’s horseracing industry in light of increased purses due to the addition of VLTs in surrounding states.

Dean’s Tour -- Secretary Kuperus hosted Cook College Dean Robert Goodman for a tour of New Jersey’s agriculture industry on Wednesday, August 3. They visited a nursery, a winery, a community farmers market, a farm stand, a pick-your-own farm and an equine rearing facility. Dean Goodman appreciated the diversity of New Jersey agriculture.

Pest Update -- Asian longhorned beetle: Five new infested trees have been found in the southeast section of Linden since July 24, resulting in the need to expand the Middlesex/Union quarantine zone. Because the trees have all had egg sites but no exit holes, the zone expansion will be by 1/8 of a mile. The expansion does not take the quarantine zone into any new municipalities. One of the new finds, a red maple tree in Rosehill Cemetery, has been removed because the 25 egg sites were old, dating to 2004, and there was no apparent risk of dispersing beetles by cutting down the tree. The remaining four trees have new egg sites and so will be removed after the first hard frost to avoid sending any adult beetles into other surrounding trees. Increased survey work is ongoing to determine the number of nearby high-risk host trees that will be removed as a result of the newly found infested trees. Gypsy Moth: Due to a dry spring, gypsy moth caterpillar damage to trees in four counties has been significantly greater than in the past few years. While 6,500 acres were defoliated by gypsy moth caterpillars last year, this year's damage covered 44,000 acres. Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth and Sussex counties were most affected. The Division of Plant Industry increased its spraying efforts with municipalities in those areas. Previous years saw the use of a fungus to control gypsy moths. However, that fungus is reliant on wet weather to thrive, and this year's dry spring minimized its effectiveness. A wet spring in 2006 could help reverse that trend.

Peach Media Day -- The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council spotlighted the state’s peach industry at Terhune Orchards in Lawrence Township on August 4. During a tour of the farm’s peach orchard, owner Gary Mount spoke of the “mating disruption” technique developed by Rutgers University, which uses twist ties with a female moth’s scent to confuse male moths and dramatically reduce the rate or reproduction. The day also featured talk of the new “Premium Peach Grade” established by the State Board of Agriculture, allowing peaches of the highest quality to be sold at a premium price.