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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
August 30, 2006Farmland Preservation Legislation -- Governor Corzine signed into law five bills that appropriate nearly $119.8 million for farmland preservation in FY2007. The bills included $45 million for county easement purchases, $3.5 million for county Pinelands easement purchases, $27,572,751 for state acquisitions, $21,588,646 for planning incentive grants, $6.515 million for grants to nonprofits, and $15 million in supplemental Highlands funding to be distributed among the various programs. Also included were $600,000 for grants to counties to develop comprehensive farmland preservation plans and the reappropriation of $341,278 in interest earnings from previous bond funds to provide funding for soil and water conservation cost-share grants.
Dairy Hearing – A second hearing concerning milk prices paid to the state’s dairy farmers was held on Tuesday, August 29 at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown. That hearing will reconvene on Thursday, August 31, as there was a challenge brought by an attorney for the Pennsylvania Milk Dealers Association to documents being entered into evidence on August 29. The Department is striving to craft both short and long term solutions to the problem of increased production costs and low prices paid to producers. A copy of the findings of fact from the July 24 was filed August 8 with the Secretary of State and is available on the web at www.nj.gov/agriculture/pdf/HearingDecision.pdf.
Disaster Declaration -- USDA Secretary Johanns issued a Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation for New Jersey for 17 counties, as well as the four contiguous. All qualified farmers who experienced a crop loss from excessive precipitation, high winds, hail, and humidity from the incident period beginning June 1, 2006 may be eligible for a 3.75% Emergency Loan through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. Loan applications must be received no later than April 16, 2007.
Gypsy Moths -- Secretary Kuperus and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis sent a letter on August 3 to U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez, Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum asking their help in obtaining additional emergency federal funds to assist the two states in controlling gypsy moths. In New Jersey, gypsy moths defoliated more than 125,000 acres of forest in 69 municipalities in 15 counties. Sussex, Burlington and Ocean Counties were the hardest hit. The Secretaries requested $4 million in Forest Health Protection matching funds for the two state’s 2007 gypsy moth suppression efforts. They explained that directing resources to the suppression programs is the most effective way of continuing to slow the spread of the gypsy moth.
Asian Longhorned Beetle -- On August 1, 2006 three silver maple trees were found infested with Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) within the quarantine area, just outside the treatment area in the Tremley Point section of Linden. To date, five new exit holes, two live beetles and old and new egg sites have been found on these trees. This detection will initiate additional tree removals within Linden. The tree removal contractor continued removing high-risk host trees in the Curtis Street/ Wood Avenue infestation in Linden. This was to be the last removal site prior to the August 1st find. Removals are approximately 50 percent complete at this site. To date, more than 22,400 trees have been removed in the quarantine area since November 2004.
Agritourism – The New Jersey Agri-Tourism Industry Advisory Council met this month and discussed the results from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture-funded Rutgers University study on “Supporting Agritourism Industry Development in New Jersey.” The study identified and located New Jersey farm operations that offered some form of agri-tourism activity. It examined farmers' and farm leaders' perceptions of the opportunities presented by agri-tourism, as well as the challenges. It documented the type and scale of agri-tourism activities offered on New Jersey farms. It evaluated the characteristics of farms engaging in agri-tourism, including the economic and non-economic benefits of agri-tourism. The council also got a preview of a new state agritourism website that will allow searches for agritourism activities and events, as well as plan itineraries that included point-to-point directions.
Marketing Report – Economic Development: Since January the Economic Development’s Work Team has completed over sixty of the NJDA’s 2006 economic development strategies. The economic development strategies are targeted to benefit the following sectors of New Jersey’s agricultural industry; Produce, Ornamental Horticulture, Seafood, Dairy, Field Crops, Livestock and Poultry, Organics, Equine, Wine and Agricultural Tourism. Before the end of the year, the majority of the remaining strategies are expected to be making progress.
Seafood Recipe Cards: When visiting the local supermarket, consumers may soon notice displays of Jersey Seafood recipes at the stores’ seafood counters. The new recipe cards were developed and distributed by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to help promote local seafood. The recipe cards have been provided to retailers throughout the state. One set of cards features the five most popular wild harvest seafood while the second set focuses on varieties that are farm-raised. These recipe cards provide information about production and management, health benefits of seafood consumption, as well as some quick and easy recipes.
Jersey Fresh Events: Secretary Kuperus attended Jersey Fresh celebrations at the Super Foodtown in Ocean Township, Monmouth County, and Foodtown in Cedar Knolls, Morris County.
Community Farmers Markets: Seven new community farmers markets have opened for the 2006 season in: Freehold, Clifton, Kearney, Hackensack, Washington and two in Newark. Secretary Kuperus has visited Freehold and is planning to celebrate National Community Farmers Market Week on August 10 at the Kearney Farmers Market. The Secretary also has visited Roselle Park and Rutherford farmers markets.
Deer Fence Program -- Of the 68 requests for deer fencing, 51 farms were approved for the 2006 Deer Fencing Program. The next step is for the awardees to attend a mandatory fence-installation workshop, scheduled for September 12, 2006 at the Cream Ridge Ag Experiment Station in Monmouth County. Farms that were awarded fencing will be able to pick up fence and associated materials after providing the requisite contracts and evidence of attendance at the training session.
TDR Summit -- The State Agriculture Development Committee will hold a day-long TDR Summit on September 22nd at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Mansfield Township, Burlington County. Those invited include mayors and other representatives of the top 50 agricultural municipalities in the state that collectively account for about 60 percent of all of New Jersey's active agricultural lands. The purpose of summit is to make local officials aware of how they can use TDR as part of their municipal planning process.