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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
January 23, 2013
New Jersey State Agricultural Convention – Preparations are being made for the annual convention, being held February 6-7 at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel in Atlantic City concurrently with the New Jersey Vegetable Growers Convention. Governor Christie is scheduled to speak at the Delegates Dinner on Wednesday, February 6. As specified under New Jersey statutes, each year delegates representing all sectors of the industry must gather to elect two members to the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture, elect farmer-members to the Fish and Game Council, and set agricultural policy for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture through a series of formal resolutions voted on by the delegates. The meeting also will include listening sessions on risk management and farm profitability.
Census of Agriculture – The 2012 Census of Agriculture is currently being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Taken every five years, the Census is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them. Forms have been mailed out throughout the state with a submission deadline of February 4, 2013. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. This information is used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities from federal, state and local governments to agribusinesses and trade associations. For example, legislators use the data when shaping farm policy and agribusinesses factor it into their planning efforts.
Equine Herpes Virus – The Department quarantined two farms, one in Gladstone and one in Pompton Plains, after tests confirmed a horse from the Gladstone farm contracted the neurologic form of Equine Herpes Virus, Type One (EHV-1). The horse had attended a horse show in Newburgh, New York, the weekend of January 12. On January 18, a veterinarian informed the Department that they were treating a horse for an illness involving neurologic signs. The initial positive test result for EHV-1 was confirmed by the New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory that day and a trace of the horse’s movements was undertaken with the assistance of the New York State Veterinarian’s office. Tracing activities revealed eleven additional horses from New Jersey also participating in the show had contact with the positive horse. All have been located and none are currently showing signs of illness. The EHV-1 virus spreads quickly from horse to horse, has a high morbidity and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from a complete lack of clinical signs to respiratory problems, especially in young horses, and spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares. The neurologic form of EHV-1, additionally, can cause an acute paralytic syndrome, which results in a high mortality.
Aquaculture/Hurricane Sandy -- Two applications for Aquatic Farmer Licenses were received from a shellfish grower in Ocean County who lost his hatchery and nursery during Superstorm Sandy. He applied for temporary shellfish nursery systems that will enable the grower to produce shellfish seed for the 2013 growing season until the primary hatchery and nursery are fully rebuilt.
Hurricane Sandy Restoration Efforts – The state’s Soil Conservation Districts and the State Soil Conservation Committee are developing new procedures for districts to handle the workload associated with demolition and reconstruction of homes, businesses and infrastructure, all of which are regulated by the NJ Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act. The vast areas of devastation requiring demotion and debris processing represent a significant departure from the standard process of working with the building communities and local governments.
Gypsy Moth – Gypsy Moth ground egg mass surveys were completed in 58 municipalities throughout the state during the fall and winter months with no treatment recommendations for the spring of 2013. Continued statewide population monitoring for this forest pest will continue through the use of aerial and ground egg mass surveys beginning in June 2013.
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) – After participating in a large scale national survey in 2012, along with 15 other states, no Emerald Ash Borers were found in New Jersey. The highly destructive invasive insect pest has caused the destruction of millions of ash trees in the central United States and in recent years has been detected closer and closer to New Jersey, with positive finds in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and most recently in Connecticut. Although EAB has not been detected yet in this state, NJ is still at a high risk of infestation. Last year, 338 traps were deployed in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren Counties. In 2013, we will continue to participate in the national survey.
Coordinator of School Nutrition Programs -- Arleen Ramos-Szatmary has been appointed the new Coordinator of School Nutrition Programs in the Division of Food and Nutrition. She has been with the Department since 2000, first working as a program specialist reviewing school nutrition programs throughout the state for compliance with the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. In 2006, she became the Assistant Coordinator of School Nutrition Programs, assisting in day-to-day operation of the unit, supervising field work and representing the Department at public events. She also has been the chief coordinator of the Eat Right, Move More initiative, a joint program with the New York Jets rewarding schools that offer healthy choices in their meal programs. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cook College, Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences from College of Saint Elizabeth. As Coordinator of School Nutrition Programs, Ramos-Szatmary oversees the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, Afterschool Snack and Special Milk Programs, the Seamless Summer Option, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, as well as the Farm to School and the Eat Right, Move More initiatives. In her role, she will work to help New Jersey schools to comply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Healthier US School Challenge Award – On January 18, Arleen Ramos-Szatmary, along with USDA Food and Nutrition Service Representatives, visited Jefferson Elementary School in Summit to honor the school for attaining the Silver Level of the award. Jefferson is one of only five schools in the state to reach the Silver level. Washington, Lincoln-Hubbard, Franklin and Brayton Schools’ principals and parent organization leaders also were on hand to receive their Bronze Level recognitions during the ceremony. The Summit schools are among only 50 in the state that have achieved some level of the award.
Association of Community Farmers Markets – A meeting is scheduled to take place at the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in Atlantic City in February for farm marketers to discuss the possibilities of forming a state-wide association of community farmers markets. The meeting is part of an on-going discussion that began last January at the Agricultural Convention. Farmers that participate as vendors at community farmers markets, the Department of Agriculture, Rutgers Food Innovation Center, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, New Jersey Council of Farmers & Communities, and New Jersey Farm Bureau will be represented at the meeting.