|2001 New Jersey Agriculture Annual Report|
The Division of Rural Resources is responsible for a variety of services and programs that maintain and enhance the viability of New Jersey agriculture and related agribusinesses.
In FY01 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 that administers the State FFA Association, a national organization for students enrolled in agricultural 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.
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
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 (RCE).
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 stormwater runoff.
State Agricultural Conservation Cost-Share Program
FY01 was the third 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 to the $660,000 federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program .
Of the 244 project applications submitted for more than $5 million worth of projects, 64 projects with the greatest anticipated environmental benefits were selected. Of these, 20 applications representing $1.1 million in livestock management projects were funded along with 44 soil and water management projects representing $729,000 worth of improvements.
The majority of the remaining funding underwrote technical assistance through cooperative agreements with NRCS and three conservation districts serving as regional agricultural service centers.
Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act
Based on the latest edition of the Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control, an intensive two-day training program was conducted for professionals who work with site development and erosion control. The training addressed techniques and procedures outlined in the Standards for control of stormwater and erosion to prevent non-point source pollution on new construction sites. Seven of the 42 standards provide for post-construction water quality enhancement. These are the technical core of a statewide multi-agency water quality best management practice (BMP) manual currently being developed. When published the BMP manual will be the technical guide for a statewide stormwater management program.
During the year, SCDs processed over 4,000 applications for soil erosion and sediment control measures on 35,000 acres of land under development. District staff also conducted nearly 72,000 site inspections to assure compliance with plan requirements. In conjunction with this program, 500 applications for stormwater discharge permits for construction activities involving disturbances of five or more acres of land were processed.
Watershed Management Planning
The SSCC coordinated a $2.5 million grant, initiated in 2000 and targeted to three locations in six central and southern New Jersey soil conservation districts. n the Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Cape-Atlantic Districts, the SSCC initiated a multi-watershed study to examine many aspects of management and planning including water quality, best management practices, stormwater planning for future development and model stormwater management ordinances for municipalities. Sophisticated hydrologic and hydraulic engineering models are among the products of the study which covered 125 square miles (80,000 acres).
An agricultural non-point source pollution control project was undertaken in cooperation with a Cumberland County container nursery producer. The project included installation of several permanent and temporary water quality monitoring stations along the Upper Cohansey River to document the water quality benefits of an irrigation water recovery system installed at the nursery. The study will showcase the ability of this system to recycle irrigation water that carries fertilizers and pest control materials to the nursery stock.
The SSCC also coordinated with the Freehold SCD on a watershed management study of the Parker's Creek section of the heavily-developed Shrewsbury River Watershed. The study will examine various best management practices for improving water quality there.
Non-Point Pollution Control Demonstration Project
In Watershed Management Areas 17 & 18, encompassing Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties, the SSCC approved 14 non-point pollution control demonstration projects. Of these, 10 are livestock management efforts and four are soil erosion and nutrient management projects. Funding for this demonstration project was provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The projects were prioritized according to anticipated environmental benefits and are being implemented cooperatively by the SCDs, NRCS and DEP.
Agricultural Conservation Plans
Through continuing programs carried out in cooperation with NRCS, conservation plans were developed for nearly 25,000 acres of farmland. Land treatment practices installed on more than 3,000 acres of land prevented the loss of 24,000 tons of productive soil. In addition, conservation tillage techniques were used on almost 3,500 acres of farmland to reduce soil loss from wind and water erosion. Nearly 450 acres of conservation buffers and grazing land management practices and 18 animal waste management systems were installed.
Urban Area Conservation
Through the Urban Conservation Action Partnership, a federal-state pilot program serving Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic and Union Counties, $80,000 worth of complex natural resource management projects in urban communities got under way and others were completed. Implemented jointly by the SCDs for those counties, the SSCC and NRCS projects included installation of riparian buffers, public access, stream bank stabilization and public education and outreach in Cranford, Dover, Morristown, Newark, Rahway and Westfield.
FISH AND SEAFOOD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The focus of the Fish and Seafood Development Program is to ensure that the Garden State's commercial fishermen and aquaculturists are prepared to take advantage of the increasing demand for fish and seafood products at home and abroad. Program staff worked throughout FY01 to expand local and global markets for New Jersey products and to create a business-friendly, environmentally-sound foundation for the fledgling aquaculture industry.
FY01 saw great progress in the development of aquaculture industry regulations that are coordinated and streamlined for the industry's easy implementation while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the environment.
Key to this effort is the development of an aquatic organism health management plan to prepare for possible disease outbreaks and establish a reporting protocol for potential health issues. The plan is designed to mesh with a nationwide quality assurance program and statewide agricultural management practices for aquaculture that are now being developed.
Agriculture departments in Maryland and Pennsylvania have joined New Jersey to develop an aquaculture market newsletter. Information such as data on prices, product size and form, volume and points of origin of farm-raised products will be collected on a bi-weekly basis from Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC, to provide an accurate picture of the demand for farmed products. Modeled after the market news services for traditional agriculture products, it is hoped that the aquaculture market newsletter will provide an incentive for production as well as a record for business plans and financial transactions.
Domestic Marketing and Promotion
Throughout the year, department staff participated in a variety of events and promotions to help consumers gain a familiarity with fish and seafood products especially those that are harvested in the Garden State, and demand for the Jersey Shore Cookbooklet remained high. Jersey Shore seafood television advertisements aired seasonally on food and lifestyles shows such as "Martha Stewart Living" and "Emeril Live."
In addition, over 1,000 consumers took advantage of a series of dock tours at Viking Village on Long Beach Island. The tours gave consumers the chance to learn more about American fisheries, how those fisheries fit into the overall global food supply and the steps that are being taken to help ensure that fisheries are sustainable and resources are available for generations to come.
A major component of this year's outreach/education program was a series of programs aimed at the foodservice community. Designed to broaden domestic markets and generate a greater appreciation for locally-harvested and farmed fish and seafood products, the programs were conducted at venues such as the New York Restaurant Show, the Mid-Atlantic Foodservice Expo and the Northeastern Chapter Meeting of the American Culinary Federation. The Seafood Suppliers Directory was distributed at each event and more than 1,000 restaurant professionals participated in a survey to measure attitudes toward farm-raised fish and seafood. This research is an important tool for local wholesalers trying to develop marketing plans.
While export markets for fish and seafood products continue to grow, market demand has shifted. From 1999 to 2000, sales to NAFTA countries decreased by over 46 percent while sales to Pacific Rim and other Asian countries skyrocketed by over 6,500 percent and sales to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics grew by over 790 percent.
To help position New Jersey companies to take advantage of these dramatic market shifts, NJDA has worked closely with trade missions and buyers from around the world and cooperated with the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission to make sure New Jersey's fish and seafood industry was represented at variety of major overseas trade shows, particularly in China and other Asian nations. As a direct result of these export promotion activities, participating New Jersey fish and seafood exporters gained more than $1.3 million in sales. In addition, over two-thirds of the trade leads provided to the commercial fishing industry resulted in sales while more than one-quarter indicated that they have opened new markets and/or developed new products as a direct result of participation in trade shows or through other linkages facilitated by NJDA.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
The division's agriculture and rural development program provides services, programs and special projects that promote the economic growth and vitality of New Jersey agriculture and agribusiness. The services include technical assistance on issues such as the farm building code, appraisal methods used for taxing agricultural and greenhouse structures, agricultural recycling, farmland assessment procedures, farm sales tax requirements and other agricultural economic considerations, and interstate trucking regulations for agriculture.
State Sales Tax Changes
As part of a multi-year effort, NJDA continued to work with the state Department of Treasury's Division of Taxation and the New Jersey Legislature to bring about changes that have an economic benefit to the agriculture industry. This year sales tax exemptions were achieved for farm production services used directly and primarily in producing an agricultural commodity, such as tilling, spreading lime and applying pesticides. In addition, containers used on the farm, including pallets, are not subject to sales tax nor are materials used to construct greenhouses, grain bins, manure-handling facilities and silos.
Nursery and Greenhouse Film Recycling
For the fifth consecutive year, NJDA facilitated the collection, bundling and recycling of used nursery and greenhouse film generated by Garden State farmers. Three county recycling facilities and one private recycling firm participated in the collection efforts. Together, the four sites were able to recycle almost 168 tons of used film, maintaining New Jersey's status as a national leader in recycling used agricultural film. Since the program was first implemented in 1996, more than one million pounds of used film has been kept out of state landfills.
NJDA's Office of Agricultural Education continued to implement the vision and goals outlined in the strategic plan for agricultural education through the national "Reinventing Agriculture Education for the Year 2020" initiative. Classroom/laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural experience (work-based learning) and the FFA experience are required components of quality agricultural instruction programs, providing a well-rounded, practical approach to learning while helping schools meet the state's core curriculum content standards.
Through classroom instruction students in secondary high school agricultural courses study topics such as plant and animal science, horticulture, agri-marketing, and natural resources for further career development or science graduation credit. Supervised agricultural work experiences enable students to apply classroom training in a vocational setting. The FFA gives its members local, state and national opportunities to develop career and leadership skills, connecting the classroom and workplace experiences through incentive awards and scholarships for excellence.
During the 2000-01 school year, FFA membership held steady at over 2,000 students in 38 chapters statewide. Once again, more than one-quarter of them participated in the four leadership development conferences sponsored by NJDA. The conferences encourage development of leadership skills and include training in teamwork, goal setting, communication and leadership.
Nearly two-thirds of the state's FFA members participated in two dozen career/skill development events as well, testing their knowledge and abilities in areas such as agricultural mechanics, sales, business management, dairy cattle, equine, floriculture, forestry, natural resources and the environment, nursery/landscape, poultry and turf management. These events help prepare students not only to meet the state's core curriculum content standards and cross-content workplace readiness standards but also for careers in their areas of interest.
NJDA continued to be active in the state planning process throughout the year. The Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research conducted an impact assessment on the Interim State Plan and issued a report indicating that, with or without a State Plan, New Jersey could expect 908,000 additional people, 802,500 new jobs (not including self-employment or agricultural jobs) and 462,500 new households over the next several years. However, with the Plan it is anticipated that the state will save billions of dollars in road and sewer costs and 122,000 acres of land, including 68,000 acres of farmland.
Each Cabinet-level agency represented on the State Planning Commission designated a State Plan implementation team to coordinate state agency decision-making with the State Plan. The mission of NJDA's team is to increase awareness of agriculture as an industry; to ensure the economic viability and equity protection of agricultural operations in New Jersey; to serve as a coordinated agricultural information resource to the industry and other agencies; and to identify opportunities for agricultural economic development through the implementation of the State Plan's goals and objectives.
Throughout the final review phase of the cross-acceptance procedure, NJDA staff has focused on the importance of agricultural policies and the implementation of innovative planning techniques in the rural and environmentally-sensitive areas of the state.
NEW JERSEY AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS SERVICE
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 160 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 eight 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. Several publications, available to the public, are prepared each year summarizing the latest information including New Jersey Weekly Digest, Farm Facts, Fruit and Vegetable Crops, Cranberry Statistics, and Blueberry Statistics.
In addition to the continuous estimation program, NJASS makes its survey and processing capabilities available to meet the special needs of the agriculture community. This service is particularly critical when accurate and timely data must be gathered for the administration of disaster relief programs at both the state and county level.