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June 25, 2003

Smart Growth - Following up on the smart growth resolution of the 2003 Agricultural Convention, the N.J. Department of Agriculture (NJDA) has completed a draft Agricultural Smart Growth Plan. The Plan has five key components: Farmland Preservation, Innovative Conservation Planning, Economic Development, Natural Resource Conservation, and Agriculture Industry Sustainability. Once approved for release by the State Board, the draft plan will be distributed for comment and discussion. Three regional meetings (North, Central, South) will be held in late July to discuss the Plan and provide an update on the State Agriculture Development Committee's Strategic Targeting Initiative.

Market Development - The June meeting of the Eastern Produce Council was sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Jersey Fresh. The Council members heard crop status reports from the New Jersey Vegetable Growers, New Jersey Blueberry Council and Jersey Fruit. Secretary Kuperus discussed the Jersey Fresh marketing and advertising promotion. Timely radio advertisements and press releases are being provided as the crops become available. In this way, consumers will be reminded of the availability of Jersey Fresh produce when the commodities are in season and at the peak of freshness. Throughout the month of June, Market Development staff began making their annual Jersey Fresh retail field calls. Shop-Rite Supermarkets requested that individual stores be visited. The point-of-purchase materials delivered to the stores included price cards, hats, aprons and bin wrap.

Economic Development - NJDA is seeking increased crop insurance coverage for fresh market sweet corn and corn silage. The Department is filing jointly with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to USDA's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to increase the dollar amount of crop insurance coverage levels for these crops. The proposal would increase the amount of sweet corn coverage from $860 to $1,300 per acre. For corn silage the Departments are requesting an increase in the price election from $15.20 per ton to an option of either $19.36 or $24.20 per ton. New Jersey farmers harvested 8,500 acres of sweet corn and 18,000 acres of corn silage in 2002.

Animal Health - On May 20, 2003, Canada reported a positive Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) cow. This is the first cow with BSE found in North America that was not imported from a BSE-infected country. The USDA imposed an indefinite importation ban on all Canadian ruminants and ruminant products. To date, after the testing of 2,500 cows, no other positives have been found in Canada. The NJDA is working with other states and the federal government on monitoring this and other animal health issues.

Congratulations - Patrick Mullen, Assistant Director of the Division of Marketing and Development, was honored in Washington DC on June 13, 2003, as part of the team that developed the Audit Verification Program for good agricultural and handling practices. The award was part of the USDA's "Secretary's Honors Awards Ceremony." The team award was for Expanding Economic and Trade Opportunities for United States Agricultural Producers. The Audit Verification Program, known as Third-Party Audits, is a federal-state verification and training program for good agricultural and handling practices, which results in increased marketing opportunities for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry.

Nancy Trivette, Program Leader for the state's FFA program, was named State Supervisor representative to the National FFA Organization Board of Directors. Nancy will serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2003. Nancy was recognized for her commitment to the "preparation of students for career success and a lifetime awareness of the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resource systems."

Watershed Studies - State Soil Conservation Committee staff are completing fieldwork for six watersheds in Monmouth, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Camden County. The data will be utilized to develop a Regional Stormwater Management Plan for each watershed. The models will be the basis for analyzing stormwater impacts from proposed development activity with the goal of preventing flooding and other stormwater damages. The Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection will collaborate on the modeling of these watersheds.

2003 Envirothon Winner - Hopewell Valley Central High School Team #1 in Mercer County was the first-place winner of the 2003 Envirothon held on May 10th at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Atlantic County. Twenty-eight teams competed in this 10th annual event, which tests high school students' knowledge in six environmental subject areas. Hopewell Valley Central will advance to the national competition in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on July 26-31.

Fish & Seafood Marketing - Clam farmers in Florida and South Carolina have been actively marketing their products in New Jersey. To help New Jersey farmers recapture local markets and gain a competitive edge, identification tags for clams and oysters have been developed. These tags will assist farmers who would like to sell their products directly and utilize the Jersey Shore Seafood Brand. A fact sheet was also developed to outline the procedure for obtaining the required shipper/packer license. The NJDA is reviewing and considering the Aquaculture Advisory Council's Lease Subcommittee recommendations. The rule concerning the aquaculture license will be presented to the State Board of Agriculture to consider for proposal at its July 2003 meeting.

Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program - A total of 5,478 acres of forested residential and state properties (4,577 acres municipal and 901 acres of state lands) were treated during this year's gypsy moth cooperative suppression program. Of the 4,577 acres of municipal lands treated, 1,226 acres received two applications on areas having more than 3,000 egg masses per acre. Field plots are currently being set up and checked in many of the treatment blocks to evaluate the effectiveness of this year's spray operation. The statewide aerial defoliation survey is expected to begin around the third week of June and should be completed by mid-July.