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September 25, 2013

Specialty Crop Block Grants -- The Christie Administration has received a $777,044 Specialty Crop Block Grant to fund 13 initiatives to benefit Garden State crops such as fruits, vegetables, as well as horticulture and nursery.  The grants are part of the United States Department of Agriculture s (USDA) efforts to promote specialty crops in the nation and stimulate food-and agriculturally-based community economic development.  Most of New Jersey agriculture falls into the specialty crop category, which account for $882.4 million in sales annually in the Garden State.  The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will use a portion of the funding to support the popular Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs.  A majority of the projects support agricultural marketing and cooperative development.  Several research projects also are included.

New Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory Website -- A new website geared toward veterinarians, as well as farmers, animal owners, animal organizations and universities was launched in September.  The New Jersey Department of Agriculture s Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory website can be found at  The user-friendly website also includes a mobile site, which provides easy access to the laboratory s services while in the field.  The site gives people the ability to search for tests by keywords, animal species, discipline and cause of the disease; they will find submission forms and complete instructions on how to submit samples; training and education information; contact information; and directions to the laboratory.  The laboratory opened at the New Jersey Public Health, Environmental and Agricultural Laboratories (NJPHEAL) building in Ewing in March 2012, enabling the laboratory to expand its services.  Some new capabilities include a state-of-the-art necropsy laboratory, modern testing instruments, and specialized laboratory space to handle select agents, dangerous pathogens and highly toxic chemicals, increasing the laboratory s capacity to respond to high consequential and emerging animal diseases such as influenza viruses in birds and dogs,, foot-and-mouth-disease and classical swine fever, among others.

Dolphin Testing -- The New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (AHDL) is assisting in the investigation of bottlenose dolphin deaths along the coast of New Jersey.  Federal officials suspect a natural occurring disease cycle is affecting populations of these marine mammals from New York to Virginia.  Governor Christie directed that state resources be used to help in the investigation.  These steps also  include using Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) aircraft and expanding patrols by DEP conservation officers to look for dead or dying dolphins.  The DEP will pay for the testing at the AHDL. The Brigantine-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center had been taking the animals to a University of Pennsylvania veterinary facility, paying for the cost of testing from its own resources.

Farm to School Week September 23-27 is the 3rd annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, established by law to bring attention to the Farm to School Program, which connects schools to local farmers to increase the amount of local fresh produce available for consumption by students during the school day.  Events were planned in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the state to highlight the many successful farm to school programs:  September 23 Secretary Fisher helped kick-off the 2013-2014 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program celebrating Jersey Fresh produce at John Fenwick Elementary School in Salem; September 24 Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario attended a farmer program for 5th and 6th graders on Jersey Fresh squash and recipe sampling at Lounsberry Hollow School in Vernon; September 24 Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario School visited Deerfield School in Mountainside as fourth and fifth graders planted seeds for their school garden; September 26 -- Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario will attend a lunch-time fruit and vegetable program and displays, then Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in the classroom at Audrey W. Clark School in Long Branch.  Many other schools throughout the state are planning their own Farm to School Week celebrations.

Wine Week -- Secretary Fisher marked New Jersey Wine Week by visiting 4 JG s Orchards and Vineyards in Colts Neck.  Governor Christie signed a proclamation declaring September 20 to 29 New Jersey Wine Week, honoring the wine industry for being a growing contributor to the state s economy.  New Jersey has more than 45 licensed wineries.  Four JG s Orchards & Vineyards is a 60-acre farm named after its four owners, John and Janet Giunco and their two children, John and Jill.  The Giunco family has farmed in Monmouth County for more than 60 years.  John s parents raised apples and peaches.  John, a lawyer, and Janet, a former IBM marketing employee, opened 4 JG s in 1999.  The Giuncos hand-harvest their grapes at this time of year to produce a variety of estate wines, made only from grapes grown on their property.  In addition, they sell many tons of grapes to other New Jersey wineries.

Two Scholarships Sara Dubinin Scholarship -- the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board has announced a $1,000 scholarship to help 4-H and FFA members pursue their equine activities. Members of organizations represented on the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board are also eligible. Applicants must be between the ages of 13 and 16 and reside in the State of New Jersey.  The Sara Dubinin Scholarship is in memory of Sara Dubinin, who loved horses. Those interested in receiving the scholarship must submit an application form including an essay on, How horses have affected my life and how horses figure into my future.   The application can be found at Achievement Award -- New Jersey residents who are entering their senior year in high school this fall and are planning a career in agriculture or science may apply for the New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award, sponsored by Dr. Amy Butewicz, a former New Jersey Equestrian of the Year who started the scholarship because of her desire to give back to the community. Worth $500, this scholarship is meant to assist its recipient in beginning their future in agriculture.  The qualifications for receiving this award include submitting an application, found here, a resume along with an essay answering the question, How has your involvement within your respective nominating organization helped to shape your future career choice?   In addition, a contestant is required to be a current, active member of an organization either on the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board and/or represented at the Youth Reception portion of the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention.  The deadline to submit the materials for both awards is January 2, 2014.  They can be submitted to Lynn Mathews, 609-292-2888 or  Both scholarships will be presented at the New Jersey Bred Equine Breeder Awards Luncheon on January 26, 2014.

EEE Cases Two more cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in 2013 were reported -- a 7 month-old colt that tested positive for EEE died on August 29th. The horse, which had been located in Monmouth County, was not vaccinated for EEE.  The second horse to test positive for EEE was a 9 year-old mare from Ocean County and was humanely euthanized on September 11th.  This is the third reported equine case of EEE this year.

Mile-a-Minute Invasive Weed Control Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory personnel released the Mile-a-minute defoliator, Rhinoncomimus latipes at the Watchung Reserve in Mountainside, Union County on September 19.  During the month of September, additional R. latipes adults were distributed throughout New Jersey to augment established populations.  Rearing of the weevil continues at peak levels.  USDA APHIS and Forest Service cooperators received 12,700 weevils during the month of August.  A total of 76,060 weevils have been shipped to cooperators in nine northeastern states this summer.