Disaster Declaration -– Governor Codey has requested a Natural Disaster Declaration from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns to help those New Jersey farmers impacted by extremes of both wet and hot, dry conditions in the state this year. The USDA’s State Emergency Board recently sought the declaration after damage assessment reports showed that, although this had been a generally good season for many New Jersey farmers, there were several sectors, including corn, soybeans and other crops lacking sufficient irrigation for the hot, dry conditions. Even though some farmers had irrigation, the high temperatures and humidity contributed greatly to crop loss. A disaster declaration would provide federal funding in the form of emergency loans to help those farmers who lost crops in excess of 30 percent and cover 19 of New Jersey’s 21 counties, with the exceptions of Hudson and Union.
Pineshoot Beetle -- The pine shoot beetle, an invasive species that stunts the growth of pine trees, has been found in New Jersey in several northern counties. The beetle, a native of Europe discovered most recently in the United States in 1992, attacks new shoots of pine trees. The beetles prefer Scotch pines, but will feed and reproduce in most pine species. While the beetle can seriously harm the health of pine trees, and even kill them, it can be easily managed in Christmas tree plantations and nurseries. The beetles do not attack Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Douglas-Fir, and Fraser Fir, which are commonly used as Christmas trees. The beetles found recently in New Jersey were detected in surveillance traps in Bergen, Hunterdon, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties. The Department has posted a new web page on the beetle at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/pineshootbeetle.htm.
Farmland Assessment Information Guide Released -- To help maintain stability for Farmland Assessment, a new user friendly informational guide was released to assist both landowners and municipal tax assessors in understanding the requirements to qualify. The Department receives numerous calls on the Act and works cooperatively with the Division of Taxation in resolving issues. The guide is now available online at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/pdf/farmlandassessmentguide.pdf. [pdf 338k]
Katrina Relief -- The collection and delivery of apples to Hurricane Katrina survivors through Second Harvest was completed on Saturday, October 1, when 20 pallets filled with 45-pound boxes of apples were loaded onto America's Second Harvest's truck. The Department received confirmation that the apples arrived shortly thereafter at the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank. A pallet of apples and a pallet of peaches that could not be loaded onto the truck due to weight limits were donated to the New Jersey Agricultural Society's Farmers Against Hunger program. The next relief effort in line involves hay, fencing and other livestock supplies. These donations from farmers around the state are being gathered to be loaded onto a truck in early November. For more information, call the Department’s Emergency Management Coordinator at (609) 984-2522.
Agri-Tourism Kick-off Event -- Secretary Kuperus visited the Joseph J. White cranberry farm in Browns Mills on October 4 to announce that every year there are a greater number and a more diverse array of agri-tourism events in the state. Secretary Kuperus also announced there is a new webpage on the Department of Agriculture's Jersey Fresh website to help people find agri-tourism activities to enjoy. The new agri-tourism webpage on the Jersey Fresh website at www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/agritourismhome.htm provides convenient information and links to everything from living history farms and pick-your-own operations to food festivals, equine events and agricultural fairs.
NJ Annual Conservation Conference -- Nearly 75 percent of New Jersey’s Soil Conservation District supervisors, along with conservation partners and district staff attended the October 16-18, Annual Conservation Conference held in Atlantic City. The theme of the conference, Living the New Jersey Legacy, recognized by a Proclamation from Acting Governor Codey, marked the 30th Anniversary of implementation of the Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act. Since it’s inception, the Act has impacted the development of more than 771,000 acres of land, in accordance with stormwater management, soil erosion and sediment control standards adopted by the Department.
SADC -– Process Review Committee Recommendations: The SADC has distributed recommendations of the farmland preservation Process Review Committee to counties and other interested parties for comment. The Process Review Committee made a number of recommendations to streamline and simplify regulatory and administrative procedures to make them more efficient and effective. They include offering a countywide planning incentive grant program as an alternative to the traditional county grants program. This would eliminate administrative duplication at the state and county levels and provide financial incentives to counties that expend funding as expeditiously as possible. Comments on the recommendations are due to the SADC by November 16th. Equine Rules: The SADC distributed for comment draft new rules that would expand the list of protected agricultural activities under the Right to Farm Act to include equine-related service activities and set forth agricultural management practices (AMPs) for commercial equine activities. The draft rules were distributed as a pre-proposal to solicit comments prior to the SADC considering a formal rule proposal. The draft rules include a sliding scale formula that limits the extent to which equine-related structures or other improvements may occupy available production acreage for a farm to be eligible for protection. The formula is intended to ensure that equine service activities do not override production activities or potential. Comments on the pre-proposal are due to the SADC by November 15th. Agri-Tourism Rules: The SADC is reviewing comments received on its draft agri-tourism AMP. The draft AMP contains standards regarding specific aspects of agri-tourism activities, including lighting, parking areas, hours of operation, signs, sanitary facilities, hand-washing facilities and visitor safety. It also includes standards for particular agri-tourism activities, including visitor contact with livestock and animals, hayride operations, choose and cut Christmas tree operations, and corn mazes. It sets forth the procedure for obtaining approvals to conduct agri-tourism activities, including construction of building and parking areas associated with agri-tourism activities.
The process team recommendations and equine and agri-tourism AMPs are available on the SADC website at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/about/sadc/rulesnotice.html.