Smart Growth Plan –The Agriculture Smart Growth Working Group has reviewed all comments received by the Department of Agriculture regarding the Agricultural Smart Growth Plan and finalized the text and graphics. The final draft was presented for approval to the State Board of Agriculture at its November meeting.
Farmland Preservation – Thus far in 2003, the Farmland Preservation Program has preserved 173 farms, totaling 14,136 acres. The statewide goal is 20,000 acres per year.
AgJOBS – AgJOBS-the Agricultural Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act of 2003 (S. 1645 and H.R. 3142) has received sponsorship from New Jersey Senators Corzine and Lautenberg. AgJOBS is bi-partisan legislation which supports much needed reforms to the H-2A guest worker program and creates a one-time adjustment of status to allow current, experienced farm laborers to continue to work and live in the United States. To qualify for adjustment of status, an undocumented alien must have performed 100 or more work days of agricultural work in a consecutive 12-month period during the 18 months ending August 31, 2003. AgJOBS is not an amnesty program, but an adjustment program that requires a substantial commitment over a period of three to six years to earn the right to adjust to permanent resident alien status. If the alien does not fulfill that commitment, their status reverts to unlawful status and they are subject to removal.
Racing Summit and Sire Stakes Update – Secretary Kuperus attended the 2003 Racing Summit hosted by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Representatives from breeders’ associations, the New Jersey Racing Commission, and elected officials attended the summit, which assessed the current status of New Jersey’s horse racing industry and presented forecasts for the next four years. The meeting concluded with some recommendations for actions to revive and encourage a more prosperous industry.
In the meantime, Donerail, a brilliant standardbred racing and breeding stallion, has been relocated to Pennsylvania for the upcoming breeding season. Similar management actions are also under consideration for Malabar Man, Dream Away, and Pacific Fella, all sire stakes registered stallions. On the upside, McArdle, who will be retired this month, and Red River Hanover will begin servicing mares during the 2004 breeding season at Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge.
Animal Waste Complaints and Education – The State Soil Conservation Committee (SSCC) has developed a process in conjunction with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Enforcement section for Soil Conservation District field agents to review the validity of complaints made by a local citizen to the DEP regarding animal waste management on agricultural lands. The new process involves outreach and assistance measures offered to the property owner by the local Soil Conservation District in advance of any enforcement actions by the DEP.
As a proactive measure, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, State Soil Conservation Committee, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service offered an educational seminar on manure management and water quality for equine producers. The seminar, held on November 1 in Allentown, NJ, included the distribution of fact sheets and a visit to a horse operation that used effective manure management practices.
National FFA Convention – The National FFA Convention, held in Louisville, KY from October 29 though November 1, boasted record-breaking attendance of 51,338 participants.
New Jersey had 127 representatives from 12 chapters at the 76th National FFA Convention. Seventy-nine members, advisors and guests attended the NJ Recognition Breakfast on Wednesday, October 29, sponsored by Rutgers University, Cook College. New Jersey was represented in the Hall of States at the National Agriculture Career Show highlighting agricultural education, the turf industry in New Jersey and Mike Brooks, our first American Star Farmer Finalist since 1930. Michael Brooks was recognized as an American Star Farmer Finalist and received a $1000 award from the National FFA Foundation.
Greenhouse & Nursery Film Collection Program – New Jersey’s greenhouse and nursery growers have once again shown that the Department’s nationally-recognized film-recycling program is a necessity. In 2003, the program’s seventh year, almost 497,000 pounds of film were collected at the two regional collection sites located in Burlington and Cumberland Counties. This is almost a 5 percent increase from the tonnage collected in 2002 and brings the grand total film collected since the programs inception to almost 1.4 million tons.
Food Distribution Programs – During November the Food Distribution Bureau created food offerings for December 2003 allocation to all recipient agencies in New Jersey. This is the fourth allocation for school year 2003/2004 and included over 30 varieties of foods totaling 76,209 cases, weighing 2,561,081 pounds. This allocation also includes 3,200 cases of New Jersey Fresh White Round Potatoes, currently in oversupply.
Domestic Preparedness and Bioterrorism Awareness – On October 11, 2003, one of the Division of Animal Health veterinarians attended a “Train the Trainer” course on bioterrorism and agroterrorism. The half-day session educated participants on the importance of bioterrorism and agroterrorism disease education for veterinarians and the public. The material covers a comprehensive list of bioterror and agroterror agents, as well as history of bioterrorism and agroterrorism. The course and the materials were free of charge provided that the attendees give six outreach and education presentations each year.
Apiary Issues Follow-up – Last month, it was reported that some municipalities were considering adopting ordinances to prohibit hobby beekeeping within municipal boundaries. In response, the State Apiarist sent the municipalities of Closter and Alpine information on “Good Neighbor” policy guidelines for beekeeping and attended the first hearing on Alpine’s proposed regulation. The new prohibitory ordinance was voted down in this first meeting, but another hearing on the issue will be held toward the end of November.