Agriculture Development Work Group -- The Department in cooperation with Rutgers Cook College recently announced an online agri-business survey ultimately to create a customized training program in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The survey can be accessed from the Department’s home page at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/.
To date, there have been 206 visits to the site and 30 people completed the survey.
Farm Labor -- Secretary Kuperus attended an open house in Vineland at Rural Opportunities Inc., a private, not-for-profit regional community development and human service organization providing services to farm workers, low-income families and economically depressed communities throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and Puerto Rico. Building on the Labor Resolution at the Agricultural Convention, the Secretary discussed with farmers the strategic agenda for the development of a well trained and motivated agricultural labor force as well as the need for enough farm workers for this growing season.
Beekeeper's Program -- A cooperative venture with Rutgers University Cook College and the New Jersey Beekeepers association was announced on February 12 to increase the number of beekeepers in the state. The Bee-ginner’s Beekeeping Program will offer starter hive and basic beekeeping equipment, worth up to $300, to the first 50 qualified “first-time” beekeepers who successfully complete the 2006 “Bee-ginning Beekeepers” course, offered by the Cook College Office of Continuing Professional Education. Participants must be New Jersey residents, at least 10 years old. Beekeeping equipment will be provided through registered New Jersey bee supply dealers. The Department’s press release on the program may be viewed at: www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/pi/features/beekeepers.html.
Farmland Preservation Summit -- The State Agriculture Development Committee is holding a daylong Farmland Preservation Summit on March 3rd at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick. The summit will bring together counties, local governments, nonprofits and other preservation partners to discuss upcoming changes in the program, ways to improve coordination and related topics. The summit also is co-sponsored by Cook College, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and American Farmland Trust.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Meeting -- The Department’s Legal and Legislative Liaison, Erin Simone, attended the NASDA in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the positions of New Jersey and our partners in the Northeastern Association of State Departments of Agriculture in the developing 2007 Farm Bill. A major part of the discussion focused on strengthening the Northeast farm focus in the next Farm Bill, as well as promotion of green programs, revamping safety net issues such as crop insurance, animal disease and plant pest control, and the World Trade Organization impact on exports and the ability of U.S. farmers to access existing and new international markets for their products.
Vegetable Task Force -- The newly-formed Vegetable Industry Marketing Task Force has met twice and discussed a wide range of issues, including joining forces with other states for regional marketing, creating a cooperative venture with New Jersey vegetable growers, seeking alliances with other groups to enter a 52-week marketing chain, and promoting the stocking of Jersey Fresh products in local stores. The main charge of the Task Force, whose formation was led by State Board Member Robert “Matty” Matarazzo, is to identify and recommend strategies and changes, both short-term and long-term, to bolster market opportunities for New Jersey’s vegetable growers.
Asian Longhorned Beetle -- Bucket truck surveys in the Jersey City/Hoboken infestation area yielded no infested trees. The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service/NJDA ALB Program office in Jersey City will be closed on March 31, 2006, and all personnel will be transferred to the office in Rahway. In the Linden/Carteret/Rahway/Woodbridge area, three federal tree climbers on loan from the Chicago ALB program assisted the Department’s tree climbers surveying and examining trees in a critical area in Linden adjacent to the last positive find; no additional infested trees were found. Tree removal operations began on December 12, 2005. To date, over 3,600 trees have been removed.
Gypsy Moth Suppression -- Twenty-one municipalities and five agencies have agreed to participate in this year’s gypsy moth suppression program. Six municipalities and two agencies opted out of this year’s program. The aerial suppression program is a voluntary cooperative effort between local governments, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the USDA Forest Service. A total of 27,503 acres of forested residential properties in seven counties are proposed for treatment.
National Conservation Education Poster Contest – Three New Jersey students received first place honors in the 2005 National Association of Conservation Districts national Conservation Poster Contest. Each winner will receive a $100 prize. The theme of the competition was “Celebrate Conservation.”
National FFA Week -- Governor Corzine has proclaimed February 19-26 FFA Week in New Jersey to coincide with the national commemoration. During the week, Advocacy and Legislative Leadership Day will be held for over 105 attendees on Thursday, February 23 at the College of New Jersey. Legislators and industry leaders will address the students to give them a better understanding of how government works and how they can get involved.
Equine Awards -- The NJ Equine Advisory Board's 49th annual NJ Bred Equine Breeder Awards Dinner was held January 28th in Freehold. The Horseperson of the Year Award went to the Chapot Family of Neshanic Station. The Standardbred of the Year was Mr. Muscleman and the Thoroughbred of the Year was Park Avenue Ball. The 2006 New Jersey Equestrian was Kelsey Hockenberger who represented the NJ Horse Council in the competition.
Junior Breeders Symposium -- The annual NJ Junior Breeders Symposium is scheduled for March 11, 2006 at Cook College.
Animal Emergency Working Group (AEWG) Symposium -- On February 6th, the Division held the 9th annual AEWG Symposium at the Tropicana Hotel Casino in Atlantic City. The full day symposium drew the largest number of participants ever with over 115 members. Among other topics, the group discussed how the lessons learned in the animal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could be applied to disasters in the Garden State.