Asian Longhorned Beetle Program – The Department, in conjunction with USDA and NJDEP held a fourth information session on the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation in Carteret, Rahway, and Woodbridge. This session took place Tuesday, October 26 in Rahway. Tree removal in the infestation’s core area of Carteret and Woodbridge will begin toward the end of November, to give time for the cold nights to kill off all adult beetles. The main core area with trees showing exit holes and egg sites, remains about 1 square mile in size. The quarantine area now covers more than 10 square miles in Carteret, Woodbridge, Rahway and Linden. More than 21,000 trees have been inspected with 406 infested trees detected, one in Rahway and the rest in Carteret and Woodbridge.
Aquatic Farmer Licenses – Secretary Kuperus held an aquaculture event October 5 at Tuckerton Seaport in Tuckerton to ceremonially present the first batch of Aquatic Farmer Licenses. About 20 aquatic farmers were present. The aquatic farmer license is a provision of the New Jersey Aquaculture Development Act, which was designed to foster the growth of a viable and vibrant aquaculture industry in New Jersey. The Secretary also announced the launching of the new Jersey Seafood website, www.jerseyseafood.nj.gov, which provides consumers with a wide array of information on seafood products from the Garden State. Recipes, handling and storage information, listings of seafood-related events and more are available to on-line consumers who want to know more about the bounty of New Jersey’s waters.
NJDA Grants Web Page – New Jersey farmers can now log onto the department’s website for a clearinghouse of available grants, financial assistance opportunities and special services provided by NJDA. Included are: soil and water conservation grants; value-added producer grants; marketing improvement grants; First Pioneer farm grants; Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grants; energy and farm bill programs; technical assistance to dairy producers; deer fence cost sharing; support programs for new and established farmers. This site brings together for the first time, the many funding opportunities, technical assistance and other services provided to farmers by New Jersey, USDA and other federal agencies.
Land Use Planning Workshop – Secretary Kuperus was the opening speaker on October 14 at a workshop in Salem County to join municipal planning board members with farmers and agriculture industry representatives. The Secretary emphasized the need to plan for agriculture and it’s unique requirements as an industry. Planners were asked to consider farm viability as a leading objective rather than try to fit farming into antiquated planning techniques like large-lot zoning. Farmers were asked to work with their municipalities to achieve these objectives. The Department plans on continuing that cooperative working relationship with the counties and municipalities of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland Counties to strengthen the planning for agriculture.
Affordable Farmland - The New Jersey Farmland Affordability/Availability Working Group chaired by Gary Mount, SADC member and Mercer County farmer, has presented its recommendations to the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) on ways to make farmland more affordable and available to farmers. Recommendations included leasing selected fee-simple land on a long-term basis instead of selling it; modifying auction bidding requirements to prohibit non-farmers from bidding and purchasing preserved farmland sold by the SADC at auction; eliminating several exceptions and requiring that landowners subdivide areas intended for future housing opportunities to encourage separate sales of houses and preserved land; requiring that privately owned preserved farmland not owned by the landowner be leased to a tenant farmer under at least a three-year lease; as well as exploring a number of strategies to increase access to experience and financial resources for new and socially disadvantaged farmers. The SADC has distributed the working group's recommendations to counties, New Jersey Farm Bureau, Rutgers University's Cook College and other interested parties for comment before considering action. The working group included representation from the SADC, New Jersey Farm Bureau, Department of Environmental Protection, Farm Service Agency, First Pioneer Farm Credit, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Salem and Cumberland County Boards of Agriculture.
FFA Annual National Convention – At the FFA’s annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky this week, New Jersey FFA will have teams competing career development events, one student competing as a proficiency finalist in landscape management – an honor only 196 FFA members out of 476,000 have, a national FFA officer candidate and three state officers serving as delegates to help shape the direction of the national organization in the future. In addition, Secretary Kuperus will receive the Honorary American FFA Degree. The award is given to those who advance agricultural education and FFA through outstanding personal commitment.
West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) - From June 15 to present, there have been six horses with WNV, two of which died, three were euthanized and the other remains alive. Last year, 150 horses were diagnosed with West Nile Virus by the beginning of November. The reduced numbers are due to less viral activity throughout the state among all species, from humans and horses down to mosquitoes and birds. There is speculation that the public's awareness of the disease has encouraged preventative measures including mosquito control, minimizing risk factors, and vaccinating their horses. Thus far, there have been six confirmed equine cases of EEE and one suspected case. There were eight cases in total last year.
DCA Conducting Inspections of Inflatable Amusement Devices & Corn Maze Inspection Status - DCA inspectors are making the rounds to enforce the permitting of inflatable amusement devices. Farmers wishing to use inflatable amusement devices, such as the type where the children enter and bounce about, are advised that effective January 1, 2003 a permit must be secured from DCA’s Carnival and Amusement Ride Safety Program. A manufacturer is required to have their ride ‘type certified’ prior to its sale for operation in New Jersey, whether at a fixed park or with a traveling show. Type certification requires that the manufacturer submit an application and supply the required information for review by DCA. If a farmer wishes to use an amusement ride or device, they are required to register their ride by applying for an annual permit. The $200 annual permit assures that the ride is inspected annually and has proper insurance for the duration of operation under the annual permit. There is talk amongst farmers that DCA is going to require fire sprinklers at corn mazes. According to DCA, at this time there is nothing on the books, under review, under consideration, etc., for requiring sprinklers at corn mazes. But farmers should keep in mind that things are always subject to change, e.g. if we have a fire in a corn maze and there is a loss of life, that will raise the red flag. It happened at Great Adventure - they had a loss of life in a haunted house and now the rules regulate these activities. Farmers with corn mazes need to be aware that when cornfields are dry, there is the possibility of fire and they should have an emergency response plan in place.
Deer Fence Program Update -- Staff worked with Rutgers and the Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop a bid spec sheet that must be approved by Treasury and then submitted to various vendors. Staff has also developed a draft contract between the Department and the deer fence applicant and a Property Owner’s Certificate for those lands that are rented by the deer fence applicant on a preserved farm or enrolled in an 8-year farmland preservation program. A Deer Fence Review Committee was established to review each application for eligibility once they are deemed administratively complete. To date, 24 applications have been received for consideration with an aggregate of 104,760 linear feet of fencing requested. The application deadline is November 30, 2004.
Department Seeking 2006 OYF Candidates -- Notices have gone out to Rutgers Cooperative Extension, various agriculture organizations, former NJ Outstanding Young Farmers, etc., seeking nominations for NJ’s 2006 OYF award. To be eligible for nomination, a farmer (male or female) must meet the following requirements: be a farm operator, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of his or her income from farming and be between the ages of 21-39, not becoming 40 prior to January 1, 2006. To date only 2 nominations have been received. The submission deadline is January 15, 2005. Any questions should be directed to Karen Kritz, NJ OYF Program Manager.