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December 12, 2012

Wine Shipping –
Secretary Fisher visited Auburn Road Vineyards in Pilesgrove on December 7 to showcase New Jersey wines that can now be mailed as gifts this holiday season directly from the winery.  Governor Christie signed a law in January permitting direct shipping by New Jersey wineries, joining 38 other states in the nation that allow small wineries to mail their products to customers. New Jersey has 45 licensed wineries and many have begun shipping within New Jersey and into other states. Sixteen wineries currently sell their wine through their websites. Another nine allow customers to view their wines online, but orders are taken over the phone or through e-mail. Many others are gearing up for direct shipping in the New Year. 

Gypsy Moth – All surveys for gypsy moth egg masses were completed in municipalities that requested the service -- 19 towns throughout Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, and Sussex counties.  Statewide, gypsy moth populations continue to remain at relatively low levels following their collapse in 2009.  After the initial municipal requests were completed, additional ground surveys were performed in 37 municipalities that sustained previous defoliation throughout the state.  No blocks have been recommended for treatment during the spring of 2013.

Christmas Trees – The Department promoted the choose and cut Christmas Tree industry on November 26 with the annual Christmas tree cutting ceremony, this year held at Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm in White Township, Warren County.  Wyckoff’s won the 2012 Christmas Tree Growers Association annual contest.  The tree cut by Secretary Fisher, as well as 100 other trees were donated to the Trees for Troops initiative, a charity program that donates real Christmas trees to service members and their families, sponsored by FedEx and the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation.  The trees were taken to Ft. Eustis Army Base in Virginia.  In addition, the Wyckoffs donated 20 trees to NORWESCAP Family Success Center in Phillipsburg for families in need in the area.  Members of the Phillipsburg FFA Chapter assisted in the delivery of the trees.  Family Success Centers are funded through the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.  Plans are in the works to expand the Christmas tree donations to Family Success Centers throughout the state next year.  Christmas tree farms around the state also have receptacles where patrons may donate to Farmers Against Hunger The Christmas tree farm fundraiser was held for the first time last year and collected $4,300.

Community Food Pantry Fund – Secretary Fisher today presented a $6,458 check to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune on November 27, their portion of the $58,223 Community Food Pantry Fund, representing two years of contributions through a state income tax form check-off program.  The fund was the result of recommendations from the state’s Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee in an effort to create an on-going funding stream to assist with the acquisition of emergency food to enhance the emergency food provider system.   The check-off was first available on the 2010 tax year forms.  It allows taxpayers to either contribute a portion of their tax refund or make a donation.  Money collected for the fund administered by the Department of Agriculture must be used exclusively for food purchases.   Those wishing to contribute will find the check-off item on their NJ-1040 income tax form.

Gleaning Grant -- Farmers Against Hunger (FAH) was awarded this year’s $100,000 Gleaning Support Grant, made possible through the Department of Agriculture’s State Food Purchase Program.   FAH serves 7,000 people weekly during the growing season through 70 organizations, including soup kitchens, food pantries and the state’s food banks.  Farmers from all over the state participate by donating their surplus produce or allowing volunteers to come onto their farms and glean – or pick -- excess produce.  In 2011, they received more than one million pounds of fruits and vegetables from farmers, food retailers and distributors.  In 2012 FAH added 10 new farms and had more than 40 gleanings, an increase over the previous year.  Farmers Against Hunger will use the grant money for transportation and administrative costs to deliver more produce.  Gleaning Support Program grants must be used by the gleaning organizations for collection, distribution and administrative costs.  The groups must distribute the gleaned New Jersey grown produce or non-farm nutrient dense rescued food gleaned from non-farm sources outside of the growing season only to New Jersey residents. 

Eat Right, Move More Kick-off – Secretary Fisher and New York Jets offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson visited West New York Public School #4 on November 27 to announce that school and schools in Brick, Passaic, Paterson and Hamilton Township, Atlantic County, are this year’s winners of the Eat Right, Move More contest.  PS #4 was the grand prize winner and received a $5,000 kitchen makeover, made possible by the Jets and the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign. School officials plan to use the money to update and repair the school’s salad bar serving system, increase access to daily fruits and vegetables with interesting containers and educate students with sign boards with nutrition facts and impacts of their choices.  In addition, a group of students from the school was honored on the field at the December 2 Jets game at MetLife Stadium.  The four remaining winning schools will get Jets player visits in the spring.

Outstanding Young Farmer – The 2013 New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer, Meredith Compton of Peaceful Valley Orchards in Pittstown was selected as one of the top 10 National Outstanding Young Farmer finalists.  She will attend the 57th Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress February 6-10, 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to compete for one of the four National OYF Awards.  Compton is a first-generation farmer who chose agriculture as her career after graduating from Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture. She worked at Rutgers Snyder Research Farm for 10 years, honing her production agriculture skills. After three years farming on her own while she worked at Rutgers, she decided to pursue farming on full-time basis.  Compton and her husband, Jeremy, operate Peaceful Valley Orchards on leased land.  The 150-acre farm offers pick-your-own strawberries, apples, pumpkins and Asian Pears, as well as a Community Supported Agriculture opportunity.

New Jersey Sire Stakes Program -- The Sire Stakes Board of Trustees is discussing changes to the Sire Stakes program to better serve the industry, possibly moving away from eligibility being determined by the location of the stallion and toward a “standardbred developmental program” in which mares are required to reside in the state for a determined number of days.  This change would require legislative action.  This after being notified the largest breeder in the state plans to move its two remaining stallions to Pennsylvania for the 2013 breeding season.

Agricultural Education – Chinese Delegation Visit: The Department hosted 20 agricultural educators from China this month.  They toured the Animal Health and Plant Industry labs, visited Mercer County College, County College of Morris, Northern Burlington Regional School’s agriculture program, Biotechnology H.S. and Allentown High School.  National Award:  The nation’s Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year, chosen by the Association for Career and Technical Education, was Robin McLean, Agri-science teacher at Northern Burlington Regional Middle School and a former Department of Agriculture employee.