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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
March 23, 2011
Roadside Signage – Proposed new guidelines for the Tourist Oriented Destination Signage (TODS) program were published this month, which will make the program more user-friendly for the state’s agriculture industry. The Department has been working with the Department of Transportation on the TODS blue roadside signs advertising points of interest on New Jersey roads and the proposed changes include: a lower fee for agritourism operations; an increase in the distance for eligible operations from the signed intersection for agritourism operations; and a broader definition of agriculture that will make most agricultural operations in the state eligible to participate.
Specialty Crop Block Grants – The Department is accepting applications for 2012 United States Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grants. A total of $300,000 is available to organizations representing New Jersey’s specialty crop industry for use during 2012. Individual producers are not eligible to apply. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture, nursery crops and floriculture. Most of New Jersey agriculture falls into the specialty crop category. To be eligible for a grant, projects must "enhance the competitiveness" of specialty crops and might include, but are not limited to: research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs, education, "buy local" programs, increased consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation, product development and developing cooperatives. The deadline to submit an application is April 29.
CASE Grants -- All New Jersey schools with approved agricultural education programs were given the opportunity to apply for grant funds to implement the Curriculum in Agricultural Science Education (CASE) program for next school year. Grant applications are being received and it is expected that several new CASE schools will be established.
School Breakfast Week – Secretary Fisher joined the new Mid-Atlantic Region Administrator of USDA Food and Nutrition Service Pat Dombroski at West New York School #2 on March 11 to celebrate National and State School Breakfast Week. School Breakfast Week is an initiative of the School Nutrition Association, launched in 1989 to raise awareness about the availability of the USDA’s School Breakfast Program and increase participation, both by schools and students. Fisher and Dombroski joined West New York Mayor Silverio Vega in the school’s cafeteria, as the students ate French toast sticks, turkey sausage and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Agricultural Recycling -- The Department has kicked off the 15th year of its year-round nursery and greenhouse film recycling program. This type of film is used to cover greenhouses for environmental control and hoop houses for over-wintering of nursery material. Since the film-recycling program was initiated in 1997, growers in New Jersey have recycled 7,802,820 pounds of used film. During 2010, 725,980 pounds of film were recycled. Two regional sites accept film year-round -- the Burlington County Occupational Training Center in Mt. Holly and the Cumberland County Solid Waste Complex in Deerfield. Out-of-state growers can take their used film to the Mt. Holly site, whereas the Cumberland site only will accept New Jersey growers’ film. For details about the locations, hours, fees, and other vendors who accept film, visit the Department’s website at www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/filmsites.html.
Eat Right, Move More Program – Due to an NFL player lockout, the remaining four school visits of the NY Jets Eat Right, Move More Program have been postponed for this school year. The Jets hope to reschedule visits to Hightstown High School, Oak Street School in Lakewood, Haledon Public School and Jersey City PS #25 in the fall.
Aquaculture Workshop -- The Department of Agriculture, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey School of Business and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County are sponsoring a workshop for the aquaculture industry on Tuesday, April 12 in Galloway designed to increase the prominence of the industry in the Garden State. The one-day workshop will focus on “The Four P’s of a Safe and Sustainable Aquaculture Industry: Practices, Presentation, Promotion and the Press.” The event will provide fish and shellfish producers with the knowledge and skills to market their products more successfully, grow their businesses, help shape the public’s perception of aquaculture at a local level and work with government decision-makers.
Equine Exposition -- The New Jersey Equine Expo will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15 at the Horse Park of New Jersey at Stone Tavern in Allentown in conjunction with the Jersey Fresh International Three Day Event. The Expo will offer Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops opportunities to earn most of the criteria for the following badges: Girl Scouts -- Horse Rider and Horse Sense; First Aid; Scout Safety. Boy Scouts -- First Aid; Fire Safety; Animal Science; Horsemanship. The program will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day and is available to troops from anywhere in the state, free of charge. The Jersey Fresh Three Day Event is one of the nation’s top equine endurance competitions. Horse and rider combinations will participate in three tests: Dressage, Cross-country, and Show Jumping. The Three Day Event is being dedicated to the memory of Dr. Stephen P. Dey II, President of the Horse Park of NJ and a tireless advocate for the state’s agriculture industry, who passed away suddenly last month.
National FFA Week – More than 180 FFA members, advisors, agriculture and education leaders, and legislatures attended the 2011 Advocacy and Legislative Leadership Day on February 24 at the College of New Jersey in Ewing. This year’s event focused on the importance of understanding global agriculture and the career opportunities with feeding a growing population. Guest speakers included Secretary Fisher, Assemblyman Gilbert Wilson, Dean Robert Goodman of Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and Robyn Kay, Office of Career and Technical Education, Department of Education. Student attendees took part in a college/career fair, leadership brunch and participated in various workshops including, “Global Agriculture”, “Advocating for Agricultural Education”, and “Making Decisions through the State FFA Delegate Process.” Chapter Presidents visited the New Jersey Farm Bureau and toured the State House.
Horticulture Exposition -- Students from 28 middle and high schools displayed their floral and horticultural talent in the New Jersey FFA Horticultural Exposition at the MarketFair Mall in Princeton March 18-20. There were nearly 800 entries in the competition and 69 students who participated in the on-site Floral Design Career Development.
New Jersey Honey Show -- The State Honey Show was held February 7-11. There were 100 entries, from 38 beekeepers in the state. The show was displayed for a week at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown. Ann and Angelo Trapani won the Best of Show award for their creamed honey, as well as best overall exhibiter.
National FFA Alumni Council -- Susan Butch of the Department’s Office of Agricultural Education was selected to serve a three-year term on the National FFA Alumni Council representing NJ Ag Ed/FFA staff nationwide. The National FFA Alumni Council represents state and local FFA affiliates who organize to assist and support local FFA chapters and Ag education programs. New Jersey has more than 10 local FFA Alumni affiliates.