Smart Growth Summit - Secretary Kuperus and other Cabinet members participated in the Smart Growth Summit hosted by the Governor on October 22. The Summit, intended to address issues related to sprawl, the State Plan and urban redevelopment, allowed the Secretary to showcase the importance of agriculture and efforts to strengthen the industry. In his comments, the Governor stressed the "need to preserve our farmland to keep our agricultural industry strong and our communities green and open. That means not just preserving land - which we will continue to do - but also working to keep our farmers on the land. Farms are not living museums; they're working businesses and they need to be economically successful to survive." In response to a question by former State Board of Agriculture President Bill Brooks, the Governor reiterated his strong commitment to agriculture, stating simply and directly that he is "pro-farms."
Asian Longhorned Beetle - The Asian longhorned beetle was detected in Jersey City earlier this month. The NJDA is working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address this pest that attacks and destroys primarily maples, as well as other hardwood trees. Based on an initial survey, it appears that approximately 100 trees are affected within a 9-acre area just north of the Newport Parkway and just east of Washington Boulevard. The source of the infestation is unknown at this time. Secretary Kuperus instituted an emergency quarantine on the 9-acre apartment and office complex site, along with an approximately 1-1/2 mile radius of the surrounding area, to prevent the beetle's spread. The quarantine restricts the movement of firewood, green lumber and other living, dead, cut or fallen material, including nursery stock, logs, stumps, roots and branches, from potential host trees. These items may be moved within the quarantined area but not outside of it. A more extensive survey of all potential host trees within a 1/2 mile radius from the affected site is under way.
Drought Declaration - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman announced an agricultural natural disaster designation in New Jersey for 19 primary counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren. The declaration makes farmers in those counties eligible to apply for low-interest emergency loans and farm credit programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. Farmers in counties contiguous to primary counties also are eligible for this assistance. Farmers in primary counties also are eligible for payments through the USDA's Livestock Compensation Program to help compensate them for the costs of lost pasture and other sources of feed. Farmers seeking financial assistance should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.
Marketing and Promotions - Market Development staff collaborated with the Office of Travel & Tourism in a major tourism promotion event at Penn Station in Philadelphia. The month-long tourism promotion reached several thousand commuters, encouraging them to visit and enjoy New Jersey's fall attractions. In cooperation with staff members from the Division of Plant Industry and the Office of Information Technology, Market Development staff finished the Nursery and Garden Center section of the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov. The consumer-oriented web site features the theme "fall is for planting" and includes a county listing of plant nurseries and garden centers as well as other gardening-related links for consumers.
Farmland Preservation - In the next three months, the SADC will auction off 12 permanently preserved farms in Salem, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Warren, Burlington and Mercer counties. More information can be obtained by calling the SADC at (609) 984-2504.
Value-Added Grants - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a total of $390,200 in grants to five New Jersey value-added agricultural market development projects: $219,000 to Garden State Ethanol, Inc., of Bordentown to conduct a feasibility study and develop a business plan to site an ethanol production plant in South Jersey; $107,000 to the Sussex County Milk Producers in Lafayette to conduct a feasibility analysis and develop a business plan for producing Jersey Fresh value-added dairy products, including a Jersey Fresh milk brand; $25,100 to the Jersey Fruit Cooperative Association in Glassboro to conduct a market audit study for New Jersey peaches to identify future value-added markets; $25,100 to BJ Farms in Bridgeton to establish a year-round, value-added tomato processing operation; and $14,000 to M.R. Dickinson & Son in Bridgeton to conduct marketing, production and business structure studies for developing value-added products using culinary herbs, corn, wheat or hay.
Food Distribution - During October, the Food Distribution Bureau created food offerings for November allocation to all recipient school districts in New Jersey. This third allocation for School Year (SY) 2002/2003 included 1,900 cases of apple cider purchased from a local New Jersey grower.
The Bureau of Child Nutrition celebrated School nutrition week with the Secretary joining students for lunch at schools in Burlington and Sussex Counties.
Education and FFA - The Secretary joined by Nancy Trivette the Agriculture Education Program advisor for tours of the Burlington County Institute of Technology. At the Medford campus, the Secretary toured the Pre-Vet Tech program where students were preparing dogs for a pet therapy program at a local nursing home, the Environmental Science program where students were demonstrating weather tracking, and the Horticulture program where students were designing floral pieces and displaying recent entries from a local flower show. He also visited the Horticulture program at the Westampton campus.