|2000 Annual Report|
In FY00 the division administered policies and programs to conserve and develop the state's soil, water and related natural resources and to establish close interdepartmental cooperation on issues including non-point source pollution control, waste management and water resources.
The division also offered a wide range of services to the agriculture industry to promote greater economic development, including regulatory mediation and mitigation and conservation grant programs.
In addition, the division continued its work with New Jersey's commercial fishing and aquaculture industries to help them gain a larger share of both national and international markets for their products.
As the home of New Jersey's Office of Agricultural Education, NJDA supported the further professional development of agricultural education instructors and the strengthening of their programs around the state. NJDA remains the only department of agriculture in the country which administers the State FFA Association, an organization for students enrolled in agriculture education in public high schools.
The New Jersey Agricultural Statistics Service, a joint federal-state program, collected and distributed agricultural production data and conducted special surveys of the industry throughout the year.
The State Soil Conservation Committee (SSCC) is responsible for coordinating programs related to the conservation and development of soil, water and related natural resources in the state through the New Jersey Conservation Partnership, which includes the 16 soil conservation districts (SCDs), USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service.
The SSCC establishes statewide policy and standards on a variety of conservation issues and provides technical assistance and training, creates technical and administrative standards, administers non-point pollution control and agricultural cost-sharing programs and assures program accountability at the state and district levels. The SSCC also establishes standards for soil and water management practices on construction, mining and other land disturbance activities associated with development to protect water quality and avoid damage from storm water runoff.
FY00 was the second year of the Agricultural Conservation Cost-Share Program (CCSP), which provides technical and financial assistance to implement agricultural conservation projects that enhance water quality. The state's $2 million in CCSP funding was a companion effort with the $680,000 federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Of the 496 project applications submitted, 93 projects with the greatest anticipated environmental benefits were selected. Of these, 25 projects worth approximately $1.5 million were approved for livestock management projects and 68 soil and water management projects were allotted $706,000. This program is expected to yield significant water quality benefits. The majority of the remaining funding underwrote technical assistance through cooperative agreements with NRCS and three conservation districts.
The SSCC worked with the New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts to publish revisions to the Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control manual, which outlines erosion control structures and practices for construction sites and provides the technical basis for certification of soil erosion and sediment control plans for virtually all land development projects. Training on the information presented in the manual was provided to all SCD personnel and interested professionals.
year, SCDs processed over 4,000 new applications for soil erosion and
sediment control measures covering 34,000 acres of land under development.
In addition to plan certification, district staff also conducted nearly
70,000 site inspections to assure compliance with plan requirements. In
addition, using a general permit developed in cooperation with the New
Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the SSCC and SCDs
processed over 700 applications to permit storm water discharge from construction
sites involving disturbance of five or more acres of land.
The SSCC coordinated efforts by the Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer and Monmouth County SCDs to develop a variety of watershed-based regional storm water management plans. These efforts were partially funded by $2.5 million worth of grants from NJDEP and involved data gathering, computer modeling and GIS analyses. In addition, the SSCC approved 14 soil erosion, sediment, nutrient and livestock management demonstration projects in the Cumberland-Gloucester-Salem County watershed management area as part of a continuing series of non-point pollution control demonstration projects.
Land treatment practices installed on more than 9,500 acres of land prevented the loss of 31,000 tons of productive soil. In addition, conservation tillage techniques were used on almost 9,000 acres of farmland to reduce soil loss from wind and water erosion.
Through the Urban Conservation Action Partnership, a federal/state/local pilot program serving Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic and Union Counties, $300,000 worth of complex natural resource management projects in urban communities were begun or completed in FY00. Projects included installation of riparian buffers, public access, stream bank stabilization and public education and outreach in Cranford, Dover, Morristown, Newark, Rahway and Westfield.
AGRICULTURAL WATER USE ASSISTANCE
In coordination with the State Drought Emergency Task Force, NJDA provided emergency assistance to farmers faced with critical water supply and irrigation needs during the 1999 drought.
NJDA continued its efforts to expand the aquaculture industry in the Garden State by creating a business-friendly and environmentally-sound policy framework for the fledgling industry.
Major components of that framework will include a streamlined license application process, an aquatic organism health management plan, a quality assurance program, and appropriate agricultural management practices.
In addition, a step-by-step manual, A Guide to Developing Aquaculture Facilities in New Jersey, was prepared to assist those interested in establishing aquaculture ventures in the state.
DOMESTIC FISH AND SEAFOOD MARKETING
To support and promote the state's fishing industry special seasonal television commercials highlighting the availability, freshness, health benefits and ease of preparation of Jersey Shore fish and seafood were prepared. The ads ran on targeted cooking and lifestyle programs during the summer and winter holidays, prime seafood harvest time for the New Jersey fleet. More than 1,200 consumers called the toll-free number or visited the department's website to request the free Jersey Shore seafood cookbooklet mentioned in the advertisements.
The Jersey Shore fish and seafood export marketing program received a $50,000 grant from the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission for additional marketing efforts along the Pacific Rim, especially in the rapidly emerging Chinese market. New Jersey seafood exporters participated in trade shows in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore which led three New Jersey companies to develop products tailor-made for those markets. In addition, program staff met with Japanese and Chinese trade missions to develop business opportunities, such as joint ventures and technology transfer in aquaculture, for New Jersey entrepreneurs.
The division's rural development program provides services, programs, and special projects that promote the economic growth and vitality of New Jersey agriculture and agribusiness, including technical assistance on construction codes and taxation, agricultural recycling, animal damage control and many other issues.
The fourth year of the department's nursery and greenhouse film recycling program pulled more than 331,000 tons of used film out of the state's solid waste stream, a 15 percent increase over the FY99 program. Since the implementation of the film recycling program in 1996, over a million pounds of used film has been kept out of the state's landfills.
FY00 amendments to the Sales Tax Act significantly affected farmers and businesses that sell goods and services to farmers. Among the major changes created by the amendments are a variety of new farm-related exemptions. For example, farming equipment permanently affixed to a building and used directly and primarily in agricultural production is exempt from sales tax as are manure handling equipment and materials used to construct greenhouses, grain bins or silos.
NJDA was an active participant in all aspects of the state planning process including the final stages of the negotiation phase of the cross-acceptance process. Six key indicators will be included in the draft Final Plan covering five areas - economic, environmental, infrastructure, community life and intergovernmental coordination - along with 20 supplemental indicators. The amount of farmland in active production and acres of farmland preserved will continue to be key indicators for the agriculture industry in addition to a new supplemental indicator, final agricultural sector output, a dollar value that reflects the gross value of the agricultural commodities and services produced during a year.
This year NJDA continued to implement the vision and goals for agricultural education which were outlined in the benchmark report "Reinventing Agriculture Education for the Year 2020." One of the key report goals accomplished was the expansion of the State FFA Office to become the Office of Agricultural Education/FFA. Under its revised scope, the office will provide leadership, resources and services to help educators to meet state standards for high quality food, agriculture and environmental science education programs. The office will emphasize classroom/laboratory instruction in high school agricultural courses such as plant and animal science, horticulture, agri-marketing, and natural resources for further career development or science graduation credit.
NJDA supported classroom agricultural education instruction again this year with $150,000 worth of technology grants which enabled 18 schools to purchase state-of-the-art computers and related technology for agricultural education classrooms. Over the last two years, 38 local agricultural education instruction programs have benefited from this grant program. As a registered professional development provider with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), NJDA's Office of Agricultural Education/FFA also conducted six in-service training workshops for 83 teachers.
Membership in New Jersey FFA, part of the national organization of students enrolled in agricultural education who are preparing for careers in agriculture, reached an all-time high of 2,152 members statewide. More than 800 FFA members participated in 20 leadership events conducted by NJDA while State FFA officers participated in a variety of leadership development and training activities sponsored by the State FFA Alumni Association and the State FFA Foundation. In addition, five New Jersey students qualified for the American FFA Degree, the highest degree a member can attain.
The state officer team took great pride in presenting Governor Whitman with the Honorary American FFA Degree to mark her support for the agriculture industry, agricultural education and FFA. The team was honored to lead the pledge of allegiance preceding Governor Whitman's State of the State Address, the first time an FFA contingent had been invited to do so.
Agricultural statistics are essential for the orderly development of production and marketing decisions by farmers and agribusinesses. The data is used to monitor changes within the agriculture industry and to develop farm policy related to legislative initiatives, agricultural research, rural development and related activities.
The New Jersey Agricultural Statistics Service (NJASS), a cooperative program between NJDA and USDA, is the primary source of statistical information on the agriculture sector in New Jersey. This year approximately 170 statistical surveys were conducted to provide estimates of crops, livestock including poultry and dairy, commodity prices, labor, chemical usage, and related economic farm characteristics. In addition, NJASS published estimates for 10 field crops, 17 vegetable crops, five fruit and berry crops, and nine livestock animals. As part of a joint federal-state cooperative agreement, these estimates are used in combination with other state estimates to provide official USDA agricultural statistics at the national level.
In FY00, the state's 9,600 farms generated cash receipts totaling $721.3 million. The nursery/greenhouse/sod industry remained the leading commodity group with cash receipts of $286.3 million. Other leading categories included vegetables which totaled over $121.8 million followed by equine at $108 million and fruit at $82.4 million. Field crops brought in nearly $43 million while the dairy industry generated $42.1 million. Sales of poultry and eggs were valued at $26.8 million.