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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
February 25, 2009Gypsy Moth Suppression Program – A total of 64 municipalities and 10 agencies have tentatively opted in to the 2009 aerial gypsy moth suppression program, with 45,425 acres in 16 counties. The Department conducted egg mass surveys in 139 municipalities in 19 counties. Of those, 86 towns, nine agencies in 17 counties on 61,016 acres qualified for this year’s spray program. Thirteen municipalities opted not to participate in the program due to financial constraints. Participating municipalities must notify residents, adjoining municipalities and school districts of the program. The Department has requested $1.5 million from the USDA Forest Service in cost-share dollars to assist participating municipalities with treatment costs. The USDA has not yet committed to federal funding for this year’s spray program. Gypsy moth suppression activities are expected to begin in early May in South Jersey and in mid-May in the northern counties.
Reciprocity Agreements with Delaware and New York -- New Jersey has signed agreements with both Delaware and New York regarding the use of farm vehicles when driven across the neighboring state’s borders. The agreements allow operators of vehicles with ‘farmer’ license plates to drive those vehicles from New Jersey into Delaware and New York and vice-versa without being cited by police. Without the agreement, farmers had to purchase significantly more expensive “commercial” registrations to be able to drive their farm vehicles into the neighboring state. Those vehicles that did not have the commercial registration could be detained by police, which could have proved costly if they were carrying perishable materials. Another alternative for farmers was to hire commercial haulers to deliver their goods. Now, those farmers will be able to deliver their own products, as long as their vehicles are registered with “farmer” license plates in New Jersey, with Special Farm Vehicle Registration “FT” tags in Delaware or as an “agricultural” truck in New York. In all three states, vehicles with farmer or FT license plates or registered as agricultural trucks are restricted to hauling only the farmer’s own agricultural products and supplies. In addition, New Jersey and Delaware signed a separate agreement recognizing each other’s commercial driver’s license exemption for farmers. In both states, farmers who have valid drivers licenses do not need commercial drivers licenses when the farm vehicle they are operating is properly registered as a farm vehicle, is used exclusively to transport agricultural products, farm machinery or farm supplies to or from the farm owned by the farmer, is not being rented for use by others, and is used within a radius of 150 miles of the farmer’s farm.
National Outstanding Young Farmer -- H. William Sytsema, a dairy and cattle farmer from Wantage, Sussex County, New Jersey’s 2009 Outstanding Young Farmer, was chosen as one of four National Outstanding Young Farmers by the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) on February 14 at their 2009 Awards Congress in Eugene, Oregon. Sytsema, who is 39, joined farmers from Iowa, Ohio and Oregon as recipients of the national honors. He is only the fifth New Jersey farmer named National Outstanding Young Farmer in the program’s 50-year history. The others are: Jeff Vander Groef, a Sussex County dairy farmer (2005); Robert C. Von Thun Jr., a Middlesex County vegetable farmer (2001); James Giamarese, a Middlesex County vegetable farmer (1989); Abbott W. Lee, a Burlington County cranberry farmer (1985). A fifth generation farmer, Sytsema purchased the family farm from his father in 2000. With the help of his wife, Holly, he expanded the business to include a retail farm market and agricultural education programs. His farm, Windy Flats Dairy, now includes 87 acres owned by Will, 40 acres owned in partnership, 900 acres of rental fields, 110 cows, 80 replacement heifers and 15 beef stock. The Sytsemas are raising their children, Halee, Will, EmmaMae and Clay on the farm.
Hunger Efforts – Supplemental funding from the Governor’s Economic Stimulus package appears to be filling the void providing food to needy New Jersey residents who are in need but do not qualify for Food Stamps or the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). In addition, in January, a total of 186,847 pounds of food were distributed to the state’s six Emergency Feeding Operations (EFOs) through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). A total of 41,310 pounds of TEFAP commodities were directly shipped to several EFOs from USDA vendors. While there have been no reports of food pantries running low of food, as was the case last fall, the Department continues to closely monitor the situation with the expectation that unemployment may continue to increase.
Farm to School – The Department is working to develop a partnership between New Jersey farms and schools. A conference is planned for April 18 at the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville focusing on the policies and best practices for improving school lunch programs and implementing nutrition and garden curriculum into the classroom. The conference is geared for teachers, farmers, policy makers, school board members and parents who are interested in improving the nutrition, quality, and local origin of lunches and food education at public and private schools and institutions in New Jersey. For more information, visit www.njfarmtoschool.org.
Avian Influenza – New Jersey’s Avian Influenza surveillance program has been successful in controlling the disease in the state’s 34 live bird markets over the past four years. In the last six months of 2008, all tests for the disease were negative. With resources from USDA, New Jersey conducts unannounced monthly inspections and quarterly testing of all live bird markets and poultry distributors in the state. Out-of-state distributors are randomly sampled for movement into New Jersey. State and federal vehicles used within the live bird marketing system are required to undergo at cleaning and disinfection at least once a month. A list of hundreds of poultry premises has been compiled from data generated from avian influenza surveillance for communication in the event of a disease outbreak. With continued oversight and education, ongoing surveillance, routine closures and reliance on neighboring state to be vigilant, the program’s success is expected to continue.
Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) Update – Nine New Jersey mares have been traced as part of the national CEM incident. Eight mares have been located, one is dead; five counties are involved – Hunterdon, Cumberland, Gloucester, Atlantic and Cape May. There have been no positives. Nationally, there are 11 positive stallions. In total, there are 591 horses in 45 states impacted, with 11 positive stallions. All positive horses and all exposed horses that have been located, are currently under quarantine or hold order