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November 16, 2005

Thanksgiving Events – Secretary Kuperus on Thursday, November 17 will present Mercer Street Friends with the proceeds of a Department food collection in memory of Diane Fitzpatrick, a long-time coordinator of the emergency food operation for the Division of Food and Nutrition. He also will present the food cooperative with a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families check. On Tuesday, November 22 the Secretary will help distribute turkeys to emergency food operations during a visit to the Community Foodbank in Hillside. The Foodbank is the largest of six emergency food organizations statewide the NJDA contracts with to distribute federally donated food to needy individuals and families through a network of about 900 local pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

High School FFA Visits – Secretary Kuperus saw firsthand November 9 how the next wave of leaders and workers in the agriculture industry are being trained. He visited Cape May County Technical School and Buena Regional High School to encourage school administrators and Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education (AFNR) teachers in Cape May and Atlantic Counties to support their AFNR programs and guide their students to careers in agriculture. In Cape May, the Secretary tasted eel caught and smoked by the students and walked to the bay where they are growing and harvesting clams. New statistics show that agriculture, food and natural resources is a burgeoning industry in New Jersey that is demanding a skilled workforce. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports that there will be an average of 220 annual job openings in the landscaping and grounds keeping fields in Atlantic and Cape May Counties between now and 2010.

Agriculture and Green Energy -- The Agricultural Economic Development program developed a guide for farmers to determine if solar energy is cost effective for their farming operation. This guide is on New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s website and compliments the New Jersey Clean Energy website provided by the Board of Public Utilities.

Asian Longhorned Beetle
– Reforestation continued in Rahway, Carteret and Linden in the Middlesex/Union infestation area. Trees were planted on streets, private residences and industrialized business areas. A total of 1,427 non-host trees have been planted in the removal areas to date. Notices were provided to homeowners with infested host trees and high-risk exposed host trees that will be removed following hard frost and leaf fall.

Koi Event -- When people think of agri-tourism in New Jersey, they might think of corn mazes, hayrides and pick-your-own produce farms. But, several times during the year, the public has the opportunity to witness an unusual event for New Jersey – the harvest and auction of Japanese koi, a popular ornamental fish for backyard decorative ponds. On October 29, Secretary Kuperus participated in this unique agri-tourism event at Quality Koi Company’ Nisei Koi Farm in Penns Grove. A koi is a domesticated variety of common carp that originated from numerous generations of careful selective breeding in Japan. The keeping and showing of koi is widely enjoyed all over the world.

Marketing Report -- Seafood Cooking Show: To continue to support and strengthen the New Jersey seafood industry, the Department arranged for a seafood chef and Secretary Kuperus to cook Jersey seafood on Comcast’s “Eye On Ocean County.”
Jersey Fresh Availability & Forecast Report: The report continues to update 335 members of the regions produce industry, Cooperative Extension staff, federal Agricultural Statistics Service staff, Department personnel, and restaurateurs on the current and future availability of Jersey Fresh produce. This report is designed to inform decision makers of what Jersey Fresh produce is available in the marketplace and what produce is going to be available in the near future. The report indicates the general quality and quantity of produce available. This information can help buyers with their purchasing and marketing decisions as they relate to Jersey products thereby helping farmers to make a bottom line difference in their agri-business profitability.

Highlands Farmland Preservation Event
– Secretary Kuperus on October 24 announced the preservation of the 58-acre Rodigas farm in Lebanon Township through a partnership among the township, state and federal governments, and highlighted the variety of resources available to protect farmland and agriculture in the Highlands region. The preservation of this farm underscored the Department’s commitment to permanently protect farmland in the Highlands and assist farmers in undertaking conservation practices that protect natural resources and keep their operations viable. The Department plans to continue to draw on every resource available to preserve Highlands farms and strengthen the agricultural industry in that region. Those resources include:

-- $30 million in Garden State Preservation Trust funds the SADC has dedicated specifically to preserving farms in the Highlands, over and above available statewide preservation funding, which has averaged $15.5 million annually in the Highlands over the past five years;

-- $4.22 million in new federal preservation funding allocated to New Jersey through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program;

-- the Department of Agriculture’s hiring of a new staff person based in Hackettstown and Frenchtown to assist Highlands and other farmers in developing farm conservation plans.

-- assistance from the N.J. Water Supply Authority in the preservation of Highlands farms by facilitating closings on purchases of development easements and helping to develop and implement conservation plans on farms under a memorandum of understanding with the SADC; and

-- Financial incentives for farmers in the Highlands and elsewhere to install and maintain stream buffers and other practices to protect water quality through the $100 million federal-state Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and other federal conservation programs.

Equine AMP – The New Jersey Equine Advisory Board at a meeting during the week of Oct. 17 supported the State Agriculture Development Committee's draft new rules that would expand the list of agricultural activities under the Right to Farm Act to include equine-related service activities and set forth agricultural management practices for commercial equine activities. Farmers must be in compliance with agricultural management practices adopted by the SADC, or generally accepted agricultural management practices, to be eligible for protections of the Right to Farm Act. The SADC has distributed the draft rules as a pre-proposal to solicit public comment before considering a formal rule proposal.