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New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture
to Step Down in December
For Immediate Release: August 6, 2001 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic

Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, Jr., has submitted his resignation to Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco, effective December 1, 2001.

In his letter to the Governor, Brown indicated that he would assume a faculty position at Cook College, Rutgers University, in New Brunswick some time in 2002. Brown also noted that the agriculture industry in the Garden State has made significant strides in the past 20 years and thanked the Administration and the State Legislature for their strong support of the industry. "When I became Secretary of Agriculture in 1982, I had a mental list of accomplishments or contributions that I hoped to make to our ag industry to encourage its economic viability," Brown said. "The list included improvements in marketing locally-grown agricultural items, saving productive farmland for future generations, enhancing programs to conserve soil and water on farms, and protecting our animal and plant resources from devastating diseases and pests. I think I've managed to meet my personal goals in all these areas." Brown's leadership under four Governors has kept the industry vital and thriving. Despite being the most urban state in the nation, New Jersey's strong agriculture industry, has maintained a progressive, adaptive character. With nursery and greenhouse production topping the list of New Jersey's agricultural products, the state ranks third in the Northeast in agricultural production and annually ranks in the top 10 nationally in the production of a number of fruits and vegetables. One key to the Garden State's agricultural success is the award-winning Jersey Fresh marketing and promotion program Brown developed which has become the model that many states are still trying to emulate. Its umbrella covers every facet of the state's nearly $1 billion production agriculture sector. "It's important to remember that the Jersey Fresh program does more than promote fruits and vegetables," Brown said, "it promotes the Garden State as a great place to live, work and raise a family and that's an image we can all be proud of." In addition, he has worked tirelessly to expand foreign markets for New Jersey products, raising the amount of exports from less than $42 million 1980 to over $150 million this year. In a state faced with the loss of farmland due to development, Brown also nurtured the State Farmland Preservation Program, created in 1981. He was instrumental in the passage in 1998 of legislation creating the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund, a constitutionally-dedicated source of funding for farmland and open space preservation. Brown has also fostered faster preservation of farms in the Pinelands, one of New Jersey's most productive agricultural areas. In the late 1980s, Brown helped to create the Agriculture Economic Reinvestment and Development Initiative (AERDI), which made nearly $20 million in matching grants available to thousands of farmers statewide, providing a critically-needed source of capital funds at a crucial time for the industry. An important companion program to AERDI was the $3 million Business Energy Improvement Farm Grants which NJDA helped the Board of Public Utilities to fund in 1998. In 1999, with New Jersey in the grip of the third worst drought of the century, Brown worked with state legislative leaders and the Governor to develop a $20 million disaster relief package to support those farmers whose crops were decimated by weather. Brown strongly advocated measures to help the fledgling aquaculture industry, resulting in the passage of the New Jersey Aquaculture Development Act in 1997. The legislation gave NJDA the lead in promoting and developing a state aquaculture industry not only to supplement other agricultural crops produced in New Jersey but also to help fill the growing gap between seafood demand and wild harvest. Brown has also developed innovative state/federal partnerships to strengthen agricultural soil and water conservation programs, including cost-sharing programs to help agricultural producers meet a variety of natural resource and environmental challenges. Brown took the lead in the creation and development of the Horse Park of New Jersey at Stone Tavern in Monmouth County, a unique equine exhibition and competition venue. Under its public/private management partnership, the facility has become one of the finest on the East Coast, drawing competitors from around the nation and the world. Under Brown's direction, NJDA's Beneficial Insect Lab in Ewing, Mercer County, opened in 1985, has become recognized as a national leader in the biological control of a number of plant and forest pests and diseases. He also authorized the switch from the chemical Sevin for state's gypsy moth control program to the biological pesticide, B.t., an equally-effective, environmentally-friendlier control. He has also supported efforts to promote the state's $86 million dairy and livestock industries and protect the state's livestock from a variety of foreign and domestic animal diseases, including avian influenza, Johne's disease, Eastern equine encephalitis, and, more recently, West Nile virus, foot-and-mouth disease and "mad cow" disease. Among the other accomplishments realized during Brown's tenure were the strengthening of the state Right to Farm Act, the law that protects responsible farmers from unnecessary government restrictions and nuisance legal actions, and to the Farmland Assessment Act, which provides for taxation based on the agricultural use of the land. In addition, he worked with the agriculture community to establish the continuing New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program, the extremely successful Farmers Against Hunger food recovery initiative and the greenhouse film recycling effort, all of which have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of non-farmers and made New Jersey a better place to live. Brown engineered the relocation of the State FFA program to NJDA from the state Department of Education (DOE). The move made NJDA the first state agriculture department in the nation to become home to the youth organization. Since the relocation, the organization has added hundreds of new members and chartered five new chapters, including several in the state's most urban areas. NJDA also welcomed the Bureau of Child Nutrition's relocation from DOE, a change that brought all state food and commodity distribution programs under NJDA's roof, making the agency one of a few in the nation to centralize similar efforts in a state agriculture department. As a result, the national School Lunch Program and the federal School Breakfast Program have received heightened publicity to the benefit of some of the Garden State's youngest residents. Born in Fulton, New York and raised on a Massachusetts dairy farm, Brown worked in the agriculture industry and for 11 years as the Atlantic County agriculture agent, attaining professorship at Cook College before being named Secretary of Agriculture. With a bachelor of science degree in animal science from the University of Massachusetts in hand Brown earned a master's degree in horticulture from Cook College, Rutgers University in 1977. A member of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and of the United States Department of Agriculture's Census Advisory Committee, Brown currently serves as chairman both the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee and the State Soil Conservation Committee and as a member of the Garden State Preservation Trust. He is also a trustee of the Southern New Jersey Development Council and Chairman of the Aquaculture Advisory Council. In 2001 he was named to the Farm Credit Regional Council as a representative of the Northeastern states. In 1999 he was elected president of Food Export USA/Northeast (formerly EUSAFEC); appointed by then Governor Christie Whitman as a member of the Northeast Interstate Compact Commission; named to the United States Department of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics; and inducted into the New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association's Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Board of Managers of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and a member of the New Jersey Agricultural Society, the New Jersey Agriculture Museum, the New Jersey District Export Council of the United States Department of Commerce, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the New Jersey State Planning Commission. Formerly, Brown served on the National Commission on Agriculture and Rural Development Policy; as past president and executive board member of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture; as past president of the Northeastern Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the Eastern United States Agricultural and Food Export Council; on the board of directors of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association; as member of the United States Department of Environmental Protection's State/EPA Operations Committee; and on the United States Department of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Swine Health Protection. Brown has received the National Future Farmers of America's highest honor, the Honorary American Farmer Degree; the Southern New Jersey Development Council's Statesman Award; and the Golden Flower Award from the New Jersey State Florists Association and the New Jersey Plant and Flower Growers Association; and the New Jersey Education Association's 1996 Leadership Award. He was named the 1995 Horseman of the Year by the New Jersey Horse Council and he received the President's Award from the US Harness Writers Association in 1996. In 2001 he was named Horseperson of the Year by the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board. In 2000, Brown received the New Jersey Agricultural Society's Gold Medallion Award for service to the industry, Distinguished Service Awards from both the Essex County and Cape May County Boards of Agriculture, and the New Jersey Farm Bureau's Distinguished Service to New Jersey Agriculture Award.

The State Board of Agriculture, an eight-member body created by statute which serves as the policy-making and general head of NJDA, is responsible for appointing the Secretary of Agriculture, with the approval of the Governor. The search for Brown's replacement will begin shortly.