The state continues to operate under a drought emergency. Recent regular rains have improved surface water supplies and maintained soil moisture for crop production. With the rain came a relaxation of some of the homeowner watering requirements in most of the regions in the state. The northeast region still has the most limiting restrictions. The weekend rain and cool weather along with the water restrictions have resulted in slower than expected bedding plant sales.
Department Work Groups
The Smart Growth work group has defined its vision and established a work plan. The Aquaculture team held their first meeting and established an issues and action priority list. The Dairy work group is developing their action items. The Industry Development work group will be identifying challenges and opportunities that cross agriculture industry sectors. The Food Safety work group is addressing the issue of food distribution in an emergency and updating the department's current plan.
The Secretary and Al Murray, Division Director of Markets, visited with regional retail produce executives to discuss the upcoming Jersey Fresh marketing season. During these meetings, Secretary Kuperus spoke about the revised Jersey Fresh advertising program, crop outlook, and the use of Jersey Fresh point-of-purchase materials to easily identify New Jersey-grown produce within the stores' produce departments.
June is National Dairy Month as well as New Jersey's Month of the Horse. Early June will see the Secretary visiting schools with a milking cow. The New Jersey Equine Advisory Board is planning a series of Open House celebrations at Spring Valley Farm (Sussex County) and Crossarm Acres (Atlantic County) on June 8; Stonegate Standardbred Farm (Hunterdon County) and Atlantic Riding Center for the Handicapped (Atlantic County) on June 15; and Saddlebrook Ridge Equestrian Center (Burlington County) on June 22. The 2002 season of New Jersey Sire Stakes racing begins May 17 at the Meadowlands.
Plant Industry Highlights
- Aerial treatment of gypsy moth in forested residential communities began on May 6. As of May 15, 4,610 acres have been completed out of a total 22,738 acres.
- Blueberry growers planning on shipping their fresh fruit to Canada this season must participate in a Blueberry Certification Program through the department. Applications for enrollment in the program are due June 1.
- The survey of peach orchards for Plum pox virus began on May 8. The survey and sample collection are expected to continue through most of the summer. To date, no Plum pox virus has been detected in New Jersey.
- Vegetable transplants coming into the state from Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania continued during the month. Over 1.5 million plants shipped to New Jersey farmers were inspected to ensure that our farmers are receiving high-quality plants free from disease and insect pests.
- Development of a statewide Plant Laws Task force began this month. Nominations are being sought among various agricultural organizations for task force members. The task force will begin meeting in June to address regulations that establish nursery inspection fees and revision of the statutory authority to deal with plant pests.
- The division applied to USDA for approximately $80,000 in Homeland Security funding for pest detection and surveillance activities aimed at protecting our food supply from exotic plant pests in federal FY 2002. This will be used to enhance our existing infrastructure for plant pest detection.
Emergency Response Planning
Division of Animal Health met with Rutgers and Bristol-Myers Squibb to discuss arrangements for sharing lab space in the event of an operations disaster here at the department. Both organizations seem willing to work out cooperative agreements.
Conservation Cost Share Program
Ninety-nine applications totaling $1.6 million from the Conservation Cost Share Program plus $752,000 from the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program were approved for contract preparation.
2002 Envirothon Winner
Kittatinny High School in Sussex County was the 1st place winner of the 2002 Envirothon held on May 11, at Liberty State Park in Hudson County. Twenty-seven teams competed in this 9th annual event that tests high school students' knowledge in five environmental subject areas including wildlife, soils, aquatics, forestry and a current environmental issue. On May 20, the Secretary recognized the team along with winners of the soil conservation poster and essay contests.
Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration Updates
Final Reminder: July 3, 2002 is the deadline for all commercial vehicles operating in interstate transportation to have the owners display their names and USDOT numbers on both sides of the power unit. In the past, an ICC number could be displayed on the vehicle. For more information on federal motor carrier safety regulations pertaining to USDOT markings, visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsr/regs/39021.htm - 390.21 or contact Karen Kritz at (609) 984-2506 or email at Karen.Kritz@ag.state.nj.us