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October 25, 2006
Hunger Funding-- Governor Jon S. Corzine announced on October 3 the issuance of $750,000 to emergency feeding operations throughout the state as the first installment of increased funding under the state’s Initiative to Fight Hunger.  The money will be used to purchase nutritious foods, with a first priority of buying locally, to help feed an additional 500,000 people this year. Additional payments will be distributed in December of 2006, and then in March and June of 2007.  Governor Corzine’s initiative includes spending a total of $4 million in this fiscal year to fight hunger -- $3 million to feed an additional 500,000 people and $1 million to make infrastructure improvements to the feeding operations throughout the state.  In addition, the Department of Agriculture will work to improve the efficiency of the food delivery system.

Spinach -- The Department bought radio airtime and newspaper advertising in four newspapers, along with participating in numerous press inquiries, to reassure consumers that Jersey Fresh spinach was safe to eat after a dangerous strain of E. coli sickened almost 200 people and killed two after they ate bagged spinach from California.  Some supermarkets ran spinach advertisements using the Department’s print ad in their sales circulars during the weeks of October 7 and 14.  The Department received numerous favorable comments for the quick reaction to the situation.

Asian Longhorned Beetle -- The final phase of tree removal in Linden is expected to get underway shortly.  There are approximately 600 host trees in the Tremley Point section.  This area was added after a couple of infested trees were found over the summer.  To date, more than 22,900 trees have been removed in the Carteret/Woodbridge/Rahway/Linden/Roselle/Elizabeth quarantine area since November 2004.  Ground surveys continue in an effort to finish all of the quarantine area.  No new finds have been made since August 1st.

Agritourism Survey -- The Department and Rutgers Food Policy Institute on October 4 released the yearlong study of agritourism, The Opportunity for Agritourism Development in New Jersey, which found that agritourism – the business of making farms travel destinations for education and recreational purposes -- is critical to ensuring the viability of agriculture in the state in the future. The survey found that many farms in New Jersey have turned to agritourism as a way to increase revenue in the nation’s most densely populated state. A commonly cited benefit that agritourism provides to the farming industry, according to the study, was exposure of the public to agriculture, providing a positive experience with farming, educating people about the business of farming and the issues facing agriculture and instilling an appreciation for where food and agricultural products comes from, which is critical in maintaining public support of farmland preservation and other agricultural policies.  Agritourism also contributes to the quality of life through retention of farmland and open space and by providing recreational activities.

Legislators’ Cranberry Tour -- To call attention to the importance of the cranberry industry to New Jersey and the need for the industry to grow, Assemblymen Douglas Fisher, Francis Bodine and Larry Chatzidakis joined Department and Rutgers Cook College personnel on a tour of Lee Brothers cranberry farm in Chatsworth, Burlington County on October 18.  The lawmakers got to see cranberry production up close, by venturing out into the flooded bog during harvest.  They also toured Rutgers Cranberry and Blueberry Research Center.  New Jersey ranks third in the nation for cranberry production.  The day was hosted by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the New Jersey Agricultural Society, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Farmland Preservation Milestone -- Governor Jon S. Corzine joined Secretary Kuperus and Senator Martha Bark on October 16 at Robson’s Farm Market in North Hanover Township to announce that New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation program had reached the 150,000-acre milestone.  New Jersey remains a national leader in farmland preservation, with more than 18 percent of its available agricultural land base permanently preserved.  To date, almost 1,500 farms covering 150,120 acres have been preserved statewide under the Farmland Preservation Program.

Robson Hunger Award -- To honor the memory of the late Neil Robson, the Department is developing the Neil Robson Farmer’s Fighting Hunger Award, to be given out annually to farmers who make outstanding contributions to the fight against hunger by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to help feed the hungry.  Robson, a third generation farmer from North Hanover Township, died suddenly on September 25.  He was a leading supporter of the Farmers Against Hunger Program, donating 20,375 pounds of produce to the program in 2005 alone.  In addition, Robson would donate surplus produce from his stand at the West Windsor Farmers Market to the Rescue Mission and Galilee Church in Trenton on a weekly basis.

Rural Development Grant -- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Rutgers Food Innovation Center are the recipients of a $70,000 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to inform and encourage growers to consider direct marketing of their products. The grant will identify and quantify the financial and staff challenges and opportunities involved in participation in community markets.

2007 Outstanding Young Farmer -- Peter Melick, New Jersey's 2007 Outstanding Young Farmer has been selected as one of 25 semi finalists for the National Outstanding Young Farmers Award. An independent panel of judges will review the 25 Semi-Finalist Forms and 10 finalists will be chosen. If chosen as one of the 10 Outstanding Young Farmer finalists, Melick will attend the 51st Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress in Phoenix, Arizona and compete for one of the four National OYF Awards.

NJDA Web Site Award-- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has received the Documents Association of New Jersey Award for the best official New Jersey web site.  This award recognizes the department or agency web site that documents librarians feel is especially useful or informative.  Lynne Richmond will accept the award on behalf of the Department at a ceremony on November 3.

Conservation Conference -- The Annual Conservation Conference will be held on November 2-3 at Crystal Springs Hotel in Vernon, Sussex County. The annual event, with the theme "New Directions - New Opportunities,” brings together the conservation partnership, consisting of the Department, New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts (NJACD), Rutgers Cooperative Extension and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.  During the conference, conservation leadership and program issues will be discussed, including adoption of a Conservation Education Strategic Plan by Conservation Districts and the State Committee.  There also will be technical training for district staff related to controlling erosion from development sites; dealing with difficult people, and identifying technical conflicts between the State Committees' technical standards and the NJDEP Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual. The NJACD will present nine Achievement Awards for outstanding contributions to conservation among District and partner staff as well as to entities that foster conservation.  Among the persons to receive awards are the Legislative Award to Congressman Rush Holt and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer. Peter Furey of the New Jersey Farm Bureau will receive the Communications Award.