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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
August 28, 2013
Farmers Market Week -- Secretary Fisher, Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd and Patricia Dombroski, USDA Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator today celebrated Farmers Market Week in the Garden State on August 6 with a visit to the Delran Farmers Market in Delran. Governor Chris Christie proclaimed August 4 through 10, 2013 as Farmers Market Week in New Jersey. United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, likewise, proclaimed the week National Farmers Market Week to encourage healthy eating and support local farmers. The Delran Farmers Market, which opened this past June and will run through the end of September, has farmers who accept Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers. The program, which assists those in need in accessing local produce, is administered by the state Department of Health. The vouchers can be used toward purchases with those farmers through November 30.
Peaches – The Department promoted the peach industry with a press event at Battleview Orchards in Freehold on August 27. Secretary Fisher picked a basket of peaches to showcase that the Jersey peach season continues well into September and encouraged consumers to seek out Jersey peaches wherever they shop. Peaches are one of New Jersey’s top fruit crops, ranking fourth in the nation. Last year, New Jersey farmers harvested 30,000 tons of peaches valued at $39.6 million.
Roadside Stand Tour -- Secretary Fisher visited roadside farm stands in four South Jersey counties on July 29 to highlight where consumers can find Jersey Fresh produce during the prime time of the growing season. Secretary Fisher’s stops included: Sparacio Farms, Bridgeton, Cumberland County, Walker Brothers, Pittsgrove, Salem County, Bergamo’s Garden Market, Vineland, Cumberland County, Muzzarelli Farms, Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County, Duffield’s Farm Market, Sewell, Gloucester County.
New Jersey Tree to be White House Christmas Tree 2013 -- A Warren County Christmas tree farm, which in the past has honored U.S. troops by donating trees to the families of servicemen and women, was itself honored on August 10 as its 8-foot Blue Spruce was named the Grand Champion in the Tree of the Year contest held by the National Christmas Tree Association. As winner of the national award, Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm in White Township, Warren County, will present first family with the White House Christmas Tree for the coming holiday season. John Wyckoff, who represented New Jersey by winning the state’s 2012 Christmas Tree Grower of the Year award, said it was an honor to represent the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association at the national level and went on to say the award is a credit not only to our farm, but to the quality of the products being grown in New Jersey. This is the first time a New Jersey Christmas Tree farm has won the national award.
New Jersey Seafood Chef -- First Lady Mary Pat Christie and Secretary Fisher today congratulated the state’s top seafood chef Christopher Albrecht whose preparation of Golden Tilefish and Green Vegetable Chowder earned him third place in the Great American Seafood Cook Off in New Orleans on August 3. Albrecht, the Executive Chef at Eno Terra in Kingston, and his sous chef, John Crawford Koeniger, represented New Jersey in the national competition against the top seafood chefs from Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas. Chef David Crews, who represented Mississippi was crowned the 2013 King of American Seafood for his Southern Nicoise Salad which featured crab and tuna. In second place was Chef Eric Stumpf of New Mexico. Albrecht, Executive Chef at Eno Terra in Kingston, became the state’s top seafood chef when he competed against five other premier seafood chefs from around the state at the Jersey Seafood Challenge, hosted by the First Lady and the Department of Agriculture, on June 20 at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s residence in Princeton.
Standardbred Development Fund -- Governor Christie signed legislation authorizing creation of a Standardbred Development Fund (SDF). It is anticipated that the current Green Acres series would begin to be phased out commencing with the two-year-old season in 2016, although there would still be a Green Acres program for three-year-olds in 2016. Purses for the SDF will derive from the current funding format for the Sire Stakes and allocations of money for purses for both the SDF and the Sire Stakes Premier Division will be made at the discretion of the Sire Stakes Board of Trustees. The SDF program will be open to all New Jersey-sired horses, as well as horses whose the dam resided in New Jersey for a minimum of 150 days and foaled in New Jersey, regardless of where the sire may reside.
EEE-Positive Horse -- A 7-year-old horse from Cape May County was humanely euthanized on August 3 one day after showing neurologic symptoms for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a serious, mosquito-borne illness in horses. Tests on the gelding concluded the animal was positive for EEE. The Cape May horse was obtained from a horse rescue two weeks prior to the onset of illness and the animal’s vaccination history was unknown. In 2012, New Jersey had six cases of EEE and four cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) between June and October. Effective equine vaccines for EEE and WNV are available commercially. Horse owners should contact their veterinarians if their horses are not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against both EEE and WNV.
New Jersey Envirothon Team -- The 2013 winning New Jersey Envirothon team from Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Science Team #1 (Ocean County), which placed first in the state level competition held in early May out of thirty-eight teams, represented the Garden State at the North American Envirothon, North America’s largest environmental education competition, in Montana on August 4-9. The Marine Academy of Technology & Environmental Science team placed 35 out of a total of 57 teams (47 from the U.S. and 9 from Canada, and 1 Canadian territory).
American FFA Degree – Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Al Murray is a 2013 recipient of an Honorary American FFA Degree. In order to receive this award, an individual must have provided exceptional service to agriculture, agricultural education, and the FFA, as well as been nominated by FFA members.
Pests -- A total of 3,195 composite samples of blueberry leaf and cranberry leaf tissue from four different growers were tested for Blueberry Scorch Virus using ELISA testing. Results have shown that one blueberry sample was found to be positive for this virus. Individual bushes from that positive composite sample will be retested in the fall to identify and remove the infected plant; black light traps have been deployed at a Burlington County farm to trap for Trichoferus campestris, known as the Chinese Longhorned Beetle or the Mulberry Longhorned Beetle. Larvae of this beetle were found by USDA APHIS in dried vines originating from China that were stored at the farm. This beetle is native to China and will infest dead wood, stressed trees and even structural wood. For live trees it prefers mulberry, willow, birch, apple, honey locust and mountain ash. The black light traps are being serviced three times per week and so far no suspects have been detected. Emerald Ash Borer Survey (EAB) continued with traps being serviced (inspected and lures changed) and suspect insects being delivered to the plant laboratory for screening. To date, approximately one third of the traps have been serviced. So far no EAB have been identified in New Jersey.