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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
September 23, 2009Disaster Declaration Request – Governor Corzine sent a letter on September 9 requesting USDA Secretary Vilsack declare nine additional counties natural disaster areas to make farmers in those counties eligible for possible federal aid. The Governor sent a request for six counties last month. These 15 counties are reporting crop losses and property damage due to harsh weather during this growing season.
Gypsy Moth – The Department has contacted 189 municipalities throughout the state notifying them of gypsy moth defoliation on their residential forested properties. Of those, 139 towns requested egg mass surveys for participation in the 2010 program. To date, surveys in four municipalities have been completed with no treatments recommended.
West Nile Virus/Eastern Equine Encephalitis – Since August 24, three horses have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and one had a presumptive positive test. On September 5, an 11 year old gelding from Burlington County was euthanized after testing positive for EEE. The horse had been vaccinated in April 2008. Also early in September, an adult gelding from Atlantic County tested positive for EEE and was treated. And, on September 15, a 2 year old mare from Camden County was euthanized after a presumptive EEE positive. The horse had not been vaccinated. The Department had earlier announced the euthanization of a 3 year old mare from Gloucester County that had tested positive for both EEE and West Nile Virus. Another horse from Salem County contracted only the West Nile Virus and was treated.
Dairy – Concluding talks with farmers and industry representatives toward alleviating the extraordinary difficulties faced by New Jersey dairy farmers, which have been brought on by historically low prices for farmers’ milk and high input costs, the Department is preparing a notice to hold dairy hearings. Both dairy farmers and counties with large dairy interests have called for the hearings. The crisis has forced several dairy farmers in the state to sell their herds and get out of the business.
Jersey Fresh Dairy Products -- Two processors have contacted the Department and have entered into discussions with various dairy producers to purchase Jersey Fresh Milk to make cheese and yogurt milk products. One processor has obtained the proper licenses and approvals for a Jersey Fresh product with an expected launch date of late September or October. Kick-off and promotion activities are also being planned.
Legislators’ Farm Tour – The New Jersey Agricultural Society and the Department hosted the annual Legislators’ Farm Tour on Monday, September 14 through Middlesex County. Attending were: Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, Senators Barbara Buono and Marcia Karrow, Assemblymen Peter Barnes, John McKeon and Nelson Albano, Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, State Treasurer David Rousseau, Karen Elkis from Senator Menendez’ office and Lisa Plevin from Senator Lautenberg’s office, as well as staffers from the Governor’s office and Senate and Assembly. The group toured a research farm, agritourism operation, spinach farm and a Christmas tree farm.
Gloucester County Farmland Preservation Milestone -- Gloucester County will announce on October 2 the preservation of Back Creek Trust farm in Woolwich, helping the county reach the 15,000-acre milestone for preserved farmland.
Bill Signing – Secretary Fisher attended the Governor’s bill signing in Camden on September 8 of the food pantry tax form check off bill that will allow taxpayers to donate to a fund that will supplement the State Food Purchase Program. All funds collected must be used to purchase food.
Organic Certification Grants Available -- New Jersey organic producers and handlers may be eligible for reimbursement of a portion of their organic certification costs under a federal program. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is participating in the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic Certification Cost Share Program. Each qualified operation is eligible for a reimbursement of up to 75 percent of its costs of certification not to exceed $750. Certification costs include fees and charges levied by the certifying agent for certification activities. Applications must be received by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture no later than Friday, November 13, 2009. Applications and more information about the program are available online at www.nj.gov/agriculture/grants/organiccostshare.html.
Outstanding Young Farmer/Distinguished Service Citations – The State Board of Agriculture is seeking nominations for the 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer and for the 2010 Distinguished Service Citations. To be eligible to be nominated for Outstanding Young Farmer, a person must be a farm operator, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of his or her income from farming and be between the ages of 21-40, not turning 41 prior to January 1, 2011. The submission deadline is January 15, 2010 to Karen Kritz at firstname.lastname@example.org. For Distinguished Service Awards, nominations should be submitted through the County Board of Agriculture in which the individual is a resident. Those nominated should have made outstanding contributions to agriculture and to enhancing the quality of rural life in New Jersey. The deadline for receipt of nominations for 2010 is October 30, 2009. The application is available at: www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba/guidelin.html.
Farmers Against Hunger – Secretary Fisher attended a Farmers Against Hunger event on Tuesday, September 8 in Glassboro. Farmer and State Board of Agriculture member Dr. Lewis DeEugenio donated 3,200 pounds of peaches to the organization to help feed the hungry. Secretary Fisher and volunteers for Farmers Against Hunger also gleaned peaches at Dr. De Eugenio’s farm in Glassboro.
Community Farmers Markets -- Secretary Fisher promoted Jersey Fresh fall produce and community farmers markets with visits on September 11 to the Highland Park, Branch Brook Park in Newark, and Caldwell Farmers Markets. In spite of the rain that day, people ventured out to these markets to get their produce from New Jersey farmers.
Jersey Fresh on the Battleship New Jersey – Approximately 250 people attended the Battleship New Jersey’s fourth annual “Jersey Fresh Day” on Saturday, September 12, in Camden. Visitors received a free bag of produce (corn, tomato, peppers, zucchini, squash, peach and Romaine lettuce) and information about New Jersey agriculture and aquaculture from the Department. The produce was donated by several Garden State farmers. In addition, attendees learned about honeybees from a beekeeper, sampled wine from one of New Jersey’s vineyards and heard about 4-H programs.
FFA and the Rose Bowl Parade -- New Jersey State FFA President, Hanna Toft will be one of 57 FFA members to march in the Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, 2010. The Rose Bowl Parade is one of the world’s best known annual parades with approximately 40 million viewers. FFA will have an opportunity to present its core messaging and raise its visibility as one the nation’s premier youth groups.