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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
August 25, 2010
Dairy -- The Department has schedule dairy work sessions for discussion of dairy stabilization options. Those options for a “framework” to help keep dairy farmers on their farms and milking cows amid the recent severe pricing crisis, and to help bring long-term economic stability to the dairy industry from the farm to the table were issued on August 19th. The options address the growing number of farmers selling off their herds because the prices they receive for their milk does not cover the cost of production. The options range from pushing for federal market order reform to shifting a slice of money through the dairy marketing chain toward the farmers to cover the difference between the state average cost of production and the prices farmers need to continue operations. For more information and the dates, times and locations of the work sessions, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/news/hottopics/approved/topics091117.html.
Disaster Declaration Request – Due to severe weather conditions since May, Governor Christie has requested a natural disaster designation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. In a letter from August 16th, the Governor cited periods of high winds, frost and freeze, hail and flooding as having caused extensive crop damage that would necessitate the disaster declaration to make New Jersey farmers eligible for emergency loans and other federal relief programs. The request was made for Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean Counties.
BJ’s Jersey Fresh Promotion – BJ’s Wholesale Club in Manahawkin has partnered with Jersey Fresh to offer its customers for the first time loose Jersey Fresh produce. On August 20 and 21, the Club offered a farmers’ market-like spread of produce from New Jersey farmers under a tent outside the building. Club members could purchase a box for a low price and then fill the box with whatever produce they chose. The promotion, which grew out of the company’s desire to offer locally grown produce to its customers, was very successful.
Jersey Fresh Ad Campaign – A comprehensive advertising campaign is underway for the height of the growing season in an effort to boost visibility for Jersey Fresh produce. An ad, recorded by Secretary Fisher, is being aired on five radio stations, 30-second television ads are being run on Comcast, NJ Interconnect and NJN, print ads were placed in five trade and food publications, and ads can be seen on New Jersey Transit buses.
Farmers Market Week – Secretary Fisher celebrated the beginning of Farmers Market week on July 29 at the Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market. The event was attended by many dignitaries, including the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator Yvette Jackson and USDA Rural Development state director Howard Henderson. Assemblyman John DiMaio, the Mayors of Raritan Township and Flemington, and the Hunterdon County Freeholder Director also were in attendance. Secretary Fisher issued an Eat Local Challenge and all the officials there and many that couldn’t attend have pledged to eat an all-New Jersey ingredient meal soon. Those ingredients can be found at farmers markets throughout New Jersey.
Forest Pest Awareness Month – Governor Christie proclaimed August Forest Pest Awareness Month in New Jersey, as part of a national campaign to make people aware of the bugs that kill trees and urge them to buy firewood near where they are making a fire while camping this summer. Several bugs are spread when they hitchhike on firewood and other wood products.
Mosquito Control Agreement -- As part of an agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, a total of 18,800 copepods were reared at the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory and released into five New Jersey -- the highest number of lab reared copepods that have ever been produced and released in the state. These copepods are being reared as a possible biological control agent for mosquito larvae. They were released by Mosquito Control Officers in Monmouth, Hunterdon, Ocean, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties and are being evaluated for survival and efficacy in mosquito larvae breeding sites. Some of the sites include temporal pools, ditches, and artificial water holes.
Animal Waste Rule -- The Animal Waste Management Program has sent out reminders to all relevant agencies, associations and related farmer groups about the regulation deadlines of the Animal Waste rules. The rules require that all livestock farms must have complied with the General Requirements by March 2010, develop Animal Waste Management Plan by September 2010, and completely implement Plans by March 2012. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/anr/agriassist/animalwaste.html.
Farm to School Web Page – The Department launched its Farm to School web page in August at www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/childadult/farm_to_school.html. The page includes where to find Jersey Fresh products, resource materials, and links to helpful information. The Department is planning a February conference in central New Jersey about school food sourcing that will be called the "Jersey Fresh Supply Chain Forum". This half day workshop will be a collaborative effort of the N.J. Farm Bureau, Fair Food (Phila.), and the N.J. Farm to School Network to bring together school administrators, food service professionals, produce distributors and farmers to present solutions regarding local procurement in school feeding programs.
Farmer Appreciation Night – Secretary Fisher threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Trenton Thunder/New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball game at Trenton’s Waterfront Park on Tuesday, August 24. The night was sponsored by New Jersey Farm Bureau and included tractor and educational displays, farm animals and bees. The Department had an information table and set up the Jersey Fresh cart. The produce from the cart was donated to the Trenton Soup Kitchen.
Beginning Farmers Committee – Karen Kritz of the Department’s Agricultural Economic Development program has been reappointed by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to his Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. This is her second appointment to the committee, which advises the Secretary on ways to develop programs to provide coordinated assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers while maximizing new farming and ranching opportunities. They also will work to enhance and expand federal-state partnerships to provide financing for beginning farmers and ranchers. The new 19-member Committee will consist of 8 incumbents and 11 new members. Members serve a two-year term, and can be reappointed for up to six consecutive years.
2011 Outstanding Young Farmer – John Melick’s nomination form for National Outstanding Young Farmer has been submitted to the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce for consideration. 39-year-old Melick is a 10th generation farmer in Oldwick, Hunterdon County, growing apples, peaches and other fruits and vegetables. He will receive his New Jersey 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer honor at the 2011 New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in February.