Strategic Plan - The Department has completed its work on the strategic plan laying out the goals and objectives for the next two years. The process included input from agriculture and related stakeholder groups and department leadership and sets measurable goals for implementation.
Department Work Groups - The Secretary held a meeting with all the work group team leaders to review the status of the work groups and to review expectations on work plans and progress to date. The work groups work across division and in some cases agency lines on ways to improve communication and establish common visions on important and emerging agricultural issues.
Commodity Tours - On July 19th the secretary visited Atlantic and Diamond Blueberry Companies in Hammonton as part of his kitchen table tours to improve communication and understanding of the agricultural industries in the state. Blueberries are New Jersey's leading fruit crop with $36.7 million in sales last year. On July 23rd, The Governor joined the Secretary at Sun Valley Orchards in Swedesboro and met with growers and New Jersey's Peach Queen and enjoyed fresh New Jersey Peaches.
Farmland Preservation - The Governor joined the Secretary and Greg Romano of the SADC in celebrating the preservation of the Auwarter Farm in Winslow Township Camden County. The Horse farm is the first farm preserved in Camden County
Stormwater Permitting Program - A meeting was held with the Department of Environmental Protection to finalize concepts for implementing the Stormwater Phase II program by the conservation program. The Phase II program to be implemented in the spring of 2003 will involve land disturbances of 1 acre and greater to apply to the local soil conservation district for an Authorization to Discharge Stormwater. The applicants will certify that they will implement best management practices to assure that worksite generated chemicals necessary to the construction industry will not create offsite discharges of pollution. Violations would be reported to the DEP for enforcement follow up. The DEP will develop a rule proposal soon to implement the program.
Recycling of Agriculture Pesticide Containers and Nursery Pots - The NJ Department of Agriculture, working with NJDEP, has facilitated yet another plastic recycling program to help Garden State growers save money. In September 2002 empty, clean plastic High Density Polyethylene pesticide containers (up to 55 gallons) and nursery pots (both embossed with the recycling #2 or HDPE) will be collected at three proposed regional collection sites. As an incentive for pesticide license holders to recycle their Ag pesticide containers, the NJDEP's Pesticide Control Program will issue recertification credits of 1 unit of Core credit. For more details on the program, contact Karen Kritz at (609) 984-2506 or email at Karen.Kritz@ag.state.nj.us.
Plum Pox 2002 -Survey activities for Plum pox virus continued. Field crews have collected leaf samples from commercial stone fruit orchards throughout New Jersey for analysis. Over 29,900 samples have been analyzed this season. No signs of Plum pox virus have been found in any of the samples collected from farms and tested by the Department.
New Jersey Agricultural Invasive Species Council - The Council's Invasive Species Survey, being conducted by the New Jersey Agricultural Statistics Service, has been going very smoothly. Comprised of questionnaire mailings and both phone and field follow-up communications, the survey response rate has exceeded expected goals so far and is planned to continue through most of July. Once completed, the survey responses will be summarized and analyzed in order to provide pertinent information from the agricultural community to assist the Council in further development of their management plan.
Laboratory - The leptospira micro-agglutination test (MAT) is a test performed for antibodies to the bacterium that causes leptospirosis, a disease of both animals and humans. Many smaller laboratories do not offer this kind of testing. In the most recent proficiency test panel offered by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, NJ Department of Agriculture learned that our bacteriology staff achieved 98 percent accuracy, putting us in the top 10 of 45 laboratories tested. With this information, we can share with our clients the knowledge that results they receive from the Division laboratory have a high expectation of accuracy.
Fairs and Shows - The fair season is in full swing with Cumberland, Essex, Oceanport, and Ocean already finished. Overall attendance is up approximately 15%, and all of the fairs to this point have expanded agricultural and educational areas the Governor and the Secretary will be attending several of the remaining fairs this summer.
4-H Livestock Show is the first agricultural event at the Horse Park - The first agricultural event at the Horse Park of New Jersey took place on July 6. This was the Monmouth County 4-H Invitational Livestock show. Sheep, goats, poultry, and rabbits were the order of the day in the new covered work area. It proved to be a perfect venue for such a show, and this will probably be an annual event.
Cookbook featuring Jersey Fresh products is in its second printing -The Jersey Fresh Cooks cookbook continues to be a popular feature at New Jersey farm markets. The second printing of the book was delivered in mid-July, and orders filled upon receiving the books. Prior to the books being received from the printer, 110 books were pre-ordered.