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May 23, 2007
Organic Accreditation -- New Jersey became the 17th state in the nation to gain accreditation by the United States Department of Agriculture to offer in-state certification services to farmers and processors who want to enter the organic market in the Garden State.  The Department’s certification program will allow the state to assist organic growers with marketing Jersey Organic products, similar to the Jersey Fresh brand for general produce.  The Department was directed to establish an organic certification program through legislation signed into law in September of 2003.  The law required the establishment of certification procedures for “certified organic” and “transitional sustainable” and the designing of a label to be affixed to agricultural products that receive certification.  The Department had to endure a rigorous process to receive its accreditation, which allows the Department to certify crops, wild crops, livestock and handling operations to the National Organic Standards.  For more information on the Department’s Organic Certification program, visit

Gypsy Moth Suppression – The Department began its aerial spraying program for gypsy moth suppression during the second week of May. This year, spraying targets 62,500 acres in municipalities and state-owned lands that opted into the program. In all, the Department expects between 200,000 and 300,000 acres statewide to be defoliated by gypsy moth caterpillars. The hardest hit areas will be in portions of Atlantic, Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth, Warren and Sussex counties. Many of those areas also have suffered defoliation in the past several years. Three straight years of defoliation will kill oaks, the caterpillars’ main target, while conifers will die after one season of defoliation. Aerial spraying is being conducted using Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki, or B.T.K., the least toxic spray material for this purpose. This year, the Department was able to secure a 50-percent match in federal funds for municipalities that participate. This year, the Department also has added gypsy moth information to the state’s 2-1-1 community information system. It is hoped this will reduce the number of calls from residents with questions that annually demand much time and attention from Department personnel, while still being able to ensure state residents get the information they need.

Day at the Dock -- To highlight the state’s robust seafood industry, the Department hosted a group of 60 supermarket officials from A & P, Foodtown, Pathmark, Whole Foods, Food Circus and Wakefern/Shop-Rite on a tour of Viking Village, a busy fishing dock in Barnegat Light at the northern tip of Long Beach Island, for a short course on the state’s commercial fishing and aquaculture industries and to see what each has to offer them. Important contacts were made and each retailer was given a bag containing Jersey Seafood marketing materials.

JetsSchool Nutrition Program – On Wednesday, May 23, the New York Jets and the Department completed the 2006-2007 Eat Right, Move More program with a player visit to Sandman Consolidated Elementary School in Lower Township, Cape May County.  There were five winning schools that earned visits from Jets players by having the most interesting school menus using the state’s Model School Nutrition Policy and that made the most strides in wellness education.  Beginning in April, D’Brickashaw Ferguson visited Heywood Avenue School in Orange; Drew Coleman visited J. Ackerman Coles School in Scotch Plains; Stacy Tutts visited Springfield Township Elementary School; and Adrien Clarke visited Brielle Elementary School and Sandman School.  The Jets have indicated they would like to continue the program, which encourages students to eat the healthy foods offered in their school cafeterias, for next school year.

FFA Convention -- Secretary Kuperus addressed more than 375 FFA members and advisors at the 78th Annual New Jersey State FFA Convention on Tuesday, May 22, opening night of the convention that runs through May 24 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. FFA, a component of agricultural education, that includes Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education, prepares young people to contribute to the agriculture, food and environmental science industries of our region.  During the convention, students are participating in career development events, motivational workshops and will be recognized for their achievements throughout the year.  There are 37 FFA chapters in New Jersey with almost 1,800 students.  FFA is a national youth organization of 490,000 student members preparing for leadership careers in science, business and technology of agriculture with 7,200 local chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Asian Longhorned Beetle – The final six host trees targeted for removal in the Middlesex/Union infestation area were taken down on Thursday, May 17th, prior to the beetle’s emergence season. This brings to a close the tree removal that began in November 2004 after the discovery of a large infestation in Carteret and Rahway. Follow-up surveys found more infested trees in Woodbridge and Linden, and the eventual widening of the quarantine zone also took the effort into Roselle Borough, Clark and Elizabeth. Surveys will continue to be conducted in the area to ensure that the beetle has been eradicated. Follow-up surveys over the last several years in the site of an earlier infestation, Jersey City and Hoboken, showed that the protocol used by the Department and USDA was effective in removing the beetle from those municipalities. In total, the eradication effort in Middlesex and Union counties resulted in the takedown of more than 23,000 trees. To date, nearly 5,000 replacement trees, all non-host varieties, have been planted by the NJ Forest Service. Spring and fall plantings will continue to replace the trees that were taken down.

Marketing ReportCommunity Farmers Markets Seminars:  Market Development staff participated in two Rutgers Twilight Meetings, informing farmers of the marketing opportunities at the many community farmers’ markets around the state. Farmers were encouraged to participate in the WIC & Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which will increase their income as they sell produce to another segment of the consuming public.

Upcoming Events:
Hunger Event:  On May 29, Secretary Kuperus will present the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties with a check for their final installment in this year’s Hunger Initiative which provided $3 million to the seven emergency feeding operations in the state to buy nutrient dense, locally-grown food to feed an additional half million hungry residents. 

Jersey Fresh Three Day:  The Jersey Fresh Three Day Event is scheduled for May 30 - June 3 at the Horse Park of New Jersey.  Riders from all over the world have already entered. 

Conservation Education Awards Ceremony:  The ceremony will be held on May 31 at the State Museum auditorium.  Those being honored include:  the four students whose conservation posters gained first place in the national competition; the winning team in the 2007 New Jersey Envirothon, High Tech High School in North Bergen; and, the current school year’s New Jersey conservation poster and bumper sticker contest winners.