Gypsy Moth Defoliation -- The New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s annual aerial survey of New Jersey conducted between June 17 and June 29 showed a major increase in tree damage from gypsy moth caterpillars this year. An estimated 290,611 acres of trees in 159 municipalities in 20 counties were defoliated as compared to 1,330 acres in 24 towns in 11 counties in 2014. Most of the tree damage was in the seven northernmost counties in the state, with the highest concentrations in Sussex, with 108,882 acres; Passaic with 61,386 acres; and Morris with 60,699. The hardest hit towns were West Milford in Sussex County with 40,632 acres of trees defoliated and Jefferson Township in Morris County with 22,562 acres. All counties except for Hudson experienced some amount of tree damage from gypsy moths this year. For more details from the survey, go to www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/pdf/2015gmsurvey.PDF. Advisory letters will be sent to the impacted municipalities along with applications for ground egg mass surveys this fall. To qualify for the spray program, a residential or recreational forest must have an average of more than 500 egg masses per acre and be at least 50 acres in size. A single egg mass contains up to 1,000 eggs. This year, the Department conducted a spray program on 288 acres in Morris County, including two residential areas and 114 acres in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson Township, and 40 acres in Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon Borough in Morris County.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza – On June 27, the Department informed poultry producers, veterinarians and others that the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture adopted amendments to the state’s livestock and poultry importation rule designed to help protect the state’s poultry industry and its consumers from the introduction of the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (HPAI) currently affecting states in the West and Midwest. The emergency rule amendments are effective immediately for 60 days. The rules further regulate the conditions under which poultry and hatching eggs originating from states affected by the outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza may be imported into New Jersey. The disease was initially detected in Washington State and since January has spread eastward into 20 additional states. Cases have been reported in Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Highly pathogenic avian influenza is an extremely infectious and fatal form of the disease, affecting all types of birds which, once established, can spread quickly from flock to flock.
Avian Influenza Impact on School Meals – Turkey products available to school districts for next school year will be limited due to HPAI. Jennie O, the main processed turkey manufacturer has limited the amount of turkey available to schools to the amount they actually ordered last year. They also will not be accepting any new customers for next school year. All impacted districts were given the opportunity to move their entitlement dollars to a different raw commodity.
Emerald Ash Borer Update -- Department officials reported that the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees, is active in five towns in three counties. Municipal officials and residents of Bridgewater and Hillsborough in Somerset County, Westampton in Burlington County and Ewing and West Windsor in Mercer County are encouraged to visit the New Jersey Emerald Ash Borer website www.emeraldashborer.nj.gov where they can find resources on how to protect their ash trees or what to do with dead or dying trees. Emerald ash borer was first discovered in New Jersey in May 2014 by a private citizen in Bridgewater. EAB is now present in 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. It was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has since killed tens of millions of trees.
Floriculture Survey -- Secretary Fisher and New Jersey State Statistician Bruce Eklund with the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced July 1 that New Jersey ranks sixth in the nation with $196 million in floriculture sales last year, up 4 percent from 2013. Fisher and Eklund made the announcement at Lennon Farm Greenhouses, a large greenhouse grower in Tabernacle, Burlington County. New Jersey has 258 floriculture producers with sales of $10,000 or more, and there was an increase in producers in the $100,000 to $499,999 sales range. NASS recently released the 2014 Annual Floriculture Survey, which showed only New Jersey and Florida earned increases in value of sales of the 15 leading states surveyed. Nationally, wholesale value of floriculture crops was down 4 percent from 2013.
Summer Food Service Program Kick-off -- Secretary Fisher and U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Deputy Regional Administrator Diana Limbacher on July 14 helped serve lunch to about 250 students at Jose Marti Middle School in Union City as part of the Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. Started in 1976 as an outgrowth of the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in low-income areas. It also is open to people over 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and who participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled. Last year, the 100 sponsors served more than 3 million meals at 1,000 feeding sites. Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day – lunch and either breakfast or a snack. Fisher and Limbacher’s visit to Jose Marti Middle School coincided with Union City’s Summer Food Service Program kick-off event, an effort to raise awareness about the program and increase the number of children served each day. Division of Food and Nutrition staff also attended SFSP kick-off events in Perth Amboy, Bridgeton and East Orange.
Jersey Seafood Challenge -- Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Al Murray declared Chef Bryan Gregg of Escape Montclair in Montclair the winner of the 2015 Jersey Seafood Challenge on June 25 for his signature dish, Barnegat Light Scallops, Creamless Corn and Jersey Chanterelles. Chef Gregg will be New Jersey’s official representative at the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans on August 8. Today’s competition was held at Viking Village in Barnegat Light. The Jersey Seafood Challenge was sponsored by: Viking Village, New Jersey Restaurant Association, Garden State Seafood Association, New Jersey Chapters of the American Culinary Federation, and Lund’s Fisheries. The Great American Seafood Cook-off champion is named King or Queen of American Seafood.
Secretary Fisher Appointed to National Post -- Secretary Fisher has been selected to serve as the Northeastern regional representative on the 2015-2016 National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Board of Directors. Fisher’s term will begin on the last day of the 2015 NASDA annual meeting, which will take place September 13-16. Fisher served as President of the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture from 2012 to 2013 and is a past-Treasurer of NASDA.
Past-State FFA Officers in Washington D.C. – Catherine Cincotta and Lauren Fillebrown met with First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack June 30 and July 1 as part of the program Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education. The event celebrated students and educators for their work connecting the classroom to real-life career opportunities. Cincotta was honored as one of the 2015 Student CTE Innovators. She is a past state officer of the New Jersey FFA Association, former Northern Burlington Regional HS student and current Rutgers student. Lauren Fillebrown, past state officer, former Phillipsburg HS student and Penn State transfer student was invited to represent the national FFA officers at the event.
Nancy Trivette -- Nancy Trivette, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Education Program Leader and FFA Advisor, was recently named to The Council Board of Directors. She will be representing the Association of Career and Technical Education. The National Council for Agricultural Education serves as a common meeting ground for agricultural education and represents organizations and entities representing students, teachers, teacher educators, state leaders, alumni, industry and government.