|2000 Annual Report|
The Division of Dairy and Commodity Regulation serves many facets of the agriculture industry. One of its primary goals is to help retain a healthy economic environment for a viable, competitive dairy industry where consumers are assured of adequate supplies of milk at reasonable prices.
In other activities, the division administers the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program and other commodity inspection and grading programs to help ensure a constant supply of high quality, properly labeled fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, fish and seafood products for consumers in New Jersey and elsewhere. Certificates issued through the inspection and grading programs make it possible for Garden State farmers and agribusinesses to sell the inspected commodities in national and international markets.
In addition, the division provides services to New Jersey farmers, consumers and the food industry related to the production, storage, packing, marketing and sale of high quality agricultural products and works to protect against unfair, illegal and improper trade practices.
The Dairy Industry
New Jersey's dairy industry is an important segment of its agricultural economy. The industry includes dairy farmers, animal breeders, dairy cooperatives, milk handlers, processors, distributors and retail stores, all of which are served by the department. The state's 154 commercial and six institutional dairy farms produced just over 240 million pounds of milk valued at $36 million in FY00. New Jersey dairy farmers also produced heifers, cull cows, calves, grain, hay and other agricultural items, including breeding supplies such as embryos and semen.
The last decade has been an era of extreme economic distress for the dairy industry, nationwide and in New Jersey. The department continues to offer a variety of projects aimed at improving both the short- and long-term viability of this important segment of the agriculture industry. Whole herd health and management programs, including Johne's disease and mastitis control, financial management training, nutrient and crop management, and waste management improvement projects are all part of this comprehensive effort on behalf of the state's dairy industry.
In FY00 the department provided staff support and $75,000 for a Dairy Self-Help Program, a continuation of the Garden State Milk Quality Initiative begun in 1996 as a joint effort with Rutgers Cooperative Extension to help dairy farmers improve milk production and quality.
An important part of this program involves monitoring average somatic cell counts (SCC), indicators of milk quality and herd productivity. The program works with 13 milk haulers and 14 veterinarians to collect and culture bulk tank samples for participating farms to test for milk quality. Where results suggest a health problem in a herd, follow-up samples were collected from each cow. Average SCC among herds in the program has continued to drop each year.
At the end of FY00, 54 dairy farms, approximately 28 percent of the state's dairy producers, were enrolled in the Garden State Milk Quality Program. Nearly 6,600 bulk tank milk samples and over 2,700 individual samples had been collected and analyzed. Four regional dairy cooperatives were also active participants in the milk quality program along with six milk processing plants and nine milk haulers whose employees collected samples weekly. Milk quality information was provided regularly to nine veterinarians in the Garden State with monthly management reports going to two out-of-state veterinary consultants for their New Jersey clients.
The financial management program launched in 1998 has helped 28 producers complete in-depth analyses of net worth, cost of production, and cash flow. Several producers used their data to obtain new financing for herd expansion and capital improvement such as new barns, milk parlors, and machinery. Because of the program's success, it has been expanded to cover producers throughout the state.
In keeping with the mandate to maintain competition among New Jersey milk marketers, the department licensed 10,107 milk dealers, milk processing plants and retail stores. The department collected $367,972 in fees and penalties during FY00. Penalties collected from stores and dealers for a variety of infractions totaled $11,439 for the fiscal year.
services provided by the department to New Jersey's dairy industry were
the licensing and bonding of milk dealers to assure payments to producers,
the dissemination of information needed by the milk industry and the mediation
of disputes within the milk processing and distribution industry.
The department also collects and disseminates information on prices received by dairy farmers, milk production, milk sales, supermarket milk prices and other pertinent market data.
Through NJDA's Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program and other inspection and grading programs, growers obtain the certificates they need to sell produce and plants to other states and nations.
The Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program is a voluntary program designed to increase the sale of more than 70 of New Jersey's agricultural products, including fruits, vegetables, salad mixes, fresh herbs, shell eggs and cut flowers. This inspection standard adds a quality assurance note to the overall Jersey Fresh marketing program that is welcomed by wholesale produce buyers and consumers who want high quality products uniformly sized and packed.
After registering with the Quality Grading Program, growers are permitted to use the Jersey Fresh logo on their packages, indicating that the contents have been inspected and meet quality standards equal to or better than U.S. No. 1. Any use of the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading logo requires a license from the Quality Grading Program.
In FY00, 225 growers enrolled in the program and more than 138.4 million pounds of product were packed under the Quality Grading Program.
A new initiative developed this year in conjunction with a nationwide supermarket chain resulted in a third-party audit program that NJDA offers to growers and shippers of fresh produce who are required to show buyers that they are growing, harvesting, packing and handling their product in a safe and sanitary manner. NJDA became the first state agriculture department in the nation to receive private sector approval to carry out third-party audits. Department staff involved in the project received classroom and hands-on training and certification in auditing procedures and Hazard Analyses Critical Control Points (HACCP) inspections.
With food safety and quality uppermost in consumers' minds, the commodity inspection and grading service offered by the department is particularly important. Most inspection services provided by the department are paid for by those for whom the grading and inspections are done. In FY00, the program collected over $1.7 million in fees for services rendered.
Inspections performed for the poultry industry certified over 1.2 million cases of shell eggs as Grade A while more than 32 million pounds of poultry also met specified grade standards. Over 413 million pounds of liquid or frozen egg products and more than nine million pounds of dried egg product were processed under departmental inspection supervision.
The division's inspection and grading unit also worked with growers, shippers, receivers and processors of fresh produce marketed through inter- or intrastate commerce. Inspections were made at shipping point on over 41.6 million pounds of produce, including most fruits and vegetables grown commercially in New Jersey, in order to ensure that they met specific standards. Terminal market inspections were also performed on over 67.6 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables received from other growing areas. Tomato processing facilities contracted with the department for grading of more than 38.6 million pounds of tomatoes to ensure that they met grower-processor contract specifications.
Even the youngest consumers in the state benefited from the department's inspection efforts as inspectors at several plants certified 372,600 pounds of diced chicken under USDA specifications for use in the federal school lunch program.
The fish and fisheries products inspection program, begun in 1986 and operated in cooperation with the United States Department of Commerce, enables the department to provide a broad range of inspection and grading services to New Jersey's commercial fishing industry. These include plant sanitation surveys, product quality grading and export certification. During FY00, over 10.6 million pounds of fresh, frozen and canned fish were certified and inspected at the wholesale level.
It is estimated that 476,326 tons of animal feed, over 243,524 tons of fertilizers and 224,819 tons of liming material were sold in New Jersey last year. Through inspection, sampling and laboratory analysis of these products, coupled with enforcement actions against producers of mislabeled or substandard products, the department protects crop yields and promotes animal growth.
This year, 936 feed, fertilizer and lime manufacturers and distributors registered with the division. Field inspections covered 6,837 lots of feeds, fertilizers and liming materials to determine compliance with labeled guarantees. Of the 475 feed samples and 502 fertilizer samples collected for laboratory analysis, just over two percent of the feed samples and 15 percent of the fertilizer samples failed to meet the minimum nutrient levels stated on their labels. Of the 25 liming materials sampled, four failed to meet the nutrient content for which they were labeled. Label or registration violations found during field inspections resulted in those items being removed from sale.
Through the agricultural chemistry program, a total of $90,375 in registration fees and $111,512 in tonnage inspection fees were collected. In addition, penalties totaling $13,500 were assessed for fertilizer, feed and lime content violations, of which $9,326 was refunded to farmers and $4,174 was transmitted to the State Treasury.
commodity licensing and bonding program, NJDA offers economic protection
for New Jersey farmers who sell perishable agricultural commodities or
hay, grain and straw to dealers and brokers on a credit basis. Licenses
were issued to 106 produce dealers; 21 hay, grain and straw dealers; 12
shell egg dealers and one live-poultry dealer. Bonds totaling $3,789,153
were received and posted by the division.