Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication – On March 14, Secretary Fisher and U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Associate Deputy Administrator for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine program Victor Harabin, as well as local elected officials announced the eradication of the Asian longhorned beetle from New Jersey. The announcement was made in Linden, one of the areas impacted by the invasive pest. The beetle was first discovered in Jersey City in October 2002. State and federal agriculture officials then found trees infested with the beetle in Carteret, Woodbridge, Linden, and Rahway in 2004. Eradication efforts involved the removal of 21,981 trees in Union, Middlesex, and Hudson counties. The infested trees were taken to Covanta resource recovery facility where they were converted to electrical energy to power some 30,000 homes and businesses. Nearly a third of those trees have been replanted. Foresters replanted with a variety of non-host species, with each tree chosen specifically to meet the site requirements. Quarantines restricting the movement of firewood that had been put in place have now been dropped for the affected areas.
Mosquito Control – The Department met with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Mosquito Control Coordination (OMCC) to determine the 2013 production, distribution and evaluation of the copepod, Macrocyclops albidus. Under the terms of a Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory/OMCC agreement, there will be increased copepod production this year for releases beginning in early May, concentrated in Burlington, Morris and Ocean counties. For the first time, a seasonal employee will be hired to release copepods, monitor their behavior, and collect field efficacy data in selected mosquito breeding sites.
SADC to Approve Proposal of New Right to Farm Rules -- The State Agriculture Development Committee at its meeting on March 28th is expected to approve new rules for publication in the New Jersey Register that will establish performance-based standards for commercial farms seeking to qualify for right-to-farm protection for certain on-farm direct marketing facilities, activities and events, such as farm stands, farm stores, community-supported agriculture and pick-your-own operations. The standards will provide greater certainty to farmers of right-to-farm protection for these activities and promote better understanding of eligible activities among local governments and the public. The rules also include procedural changes to streamline the right-to-farm process.
Nutrition Month Marked with visit to Superstorm Sandy-Displaced Students -- Secretary Fisher and Patricia Dombroski, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, on March 25 celebrated National Nutrition Month with 85 8th grade students displaced from Union Beach Memorial School since Superstorm Sandy flooded the school, as they ate lunch with fellow 8th grade students in their temporary home at Keyport High School in Keyport. Union Beach's 205 middle school students have attended Keyport High School and Central School since November 19 while repairs are being made to their home school. The elementary school students are currently housed separately at a closed parochial school in Hazlet. The Union Beach district is providing all its displaced students with a free National School Lunch Program (NSLP) lunch until they return to Memorial School. NSLP meals must meet strict federal nutrition guidelines, which include more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and fat-free flavored milk.
Breakfast in the Classroom -- Secretary Fisher testified February 27 before the Joint Legislative Committee on Public school on the benefits of Breakfast in the Classroom in increasing school breakfast program participation and the fact there are thousands of New Jersey students that are eligible but are not taking part in the federally-funded program. Secretary Fisher invited the legislators to visit schools that have successfully implemented Breakfast After the Bell.
School Breakfast Week Celebrated -- The Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Region officials celebrated National School Breakfast Week on March 8 with a visit to Lincoln Elementary School in Harrison to highlight the district’s efforts to ensure more students start the school day with breakfast. Breakfast has been offered in the classroom universally to all students at the school for the past two school years. The program was expanded to the middle and high school this year. Secretary Fisher and New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf last year joined together to urge schools to offer breakfast in the classroom to increase participation and capture a larger percentage of children who qualify for free or reduced price breakfast who were not able to access the meal before. The Harrison School District serves hot and cold breakfasts to all of its students. Lincoln Elementary School houses more than 600 first through third-graders.
CASE Grants -- All Department of Education-approved agricultural education programs in New Jersey may apply for 10 $5,000 grants to be used for program improvement by implementing the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) program. These state grants are in addition to national grants and scholarships through the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) from DuPont Pioneer, Impact FFA, and the Mosaic Company. In addition, New Jersey also has provided two teacher professional development scholarships for the newest CASE course in Natural Resources and Ecology (NRE) sponsored by CSX. As a result of the positive impact CASE has made in our state and country, New Jersey has 17 schools implementing CASE courses as a method to raise the bar for instruction in agriculture. Over the past four years there are 39 course certifications held by 25 teachers. It is expected that New Jersey will increase that number to at least 19 schools next year based on early registrations for summer professional development for teachers. Many of these secondary agriculture programs have articulation agreements in place with county colleges and some 4-year colleges in our region to provide students with college credit for high school CASE classes. Nationally, CASE is being implemented in 338 schools in 29 states and by 417 teachers.
New Jersey Junior Breeder's Horse and Livestock Symposium -- The Symposium was held March 23 at the Round House on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Sessions included emergency preparedness training, moving poultry, showing small ruminants, pasture management for equine, marketing poultry and poultry products, a fiber folk art workshop and a dairy cattle clip-off.
State Honey Show -- The State Honey Show was held February 6-12 at the Rutgers EcoComplex. There were 61 entries from 28 members, Isidore and Kate Venetos won Best in Show; Stefanie Omlor won Best Exhibitor. The Winning entries of each class were auctioned at the winter meeting. The complete results of the 2013 show can be found here.