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Agriculture Secretary Announces Grants to Aid Dairy Farmers

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2003


Hope Gruzlovic




Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today announced that the N.J. Department of Agriculture has awarded a $35,000 grant to help fund a program that assists New Jersey dairy farmers in improving milk quality and farm management practices, thereby enabling them to earn greater economic returns.

He also announced a $10,000 matching grant to the Sussex County Co-Operative Milk Producers Association to help fund a feasibility study and develop a business plan for producing milk marketed under the Jersey Fresh label, as well as other Jersey Fresh-labeled products.

"We are committed to maintaining a viable dairy industry in the state as an important part of our overall efforts to retain our farms and strengthen our agricultural industry," said Secretary Kuperus. "These grants will help our dairy farmers protect the health of their herds, improve milk quality, operate more efficiently and expand the marketplace for their products, all of which will enable them to be more prosperous in a competitive economic market."

The $35,000 grant to New Jersey Farm Bureau will help fund the Dairy Improvement Program, which is administered by the Salem County Cooperative Extension in cooperation with New Jersey Farm Bureau and the N.J. Department of Agriculture.

The program assists farmers in undertaking management practices to reduce somatic cell counts in raw milk. High somatic cell counts are an indicator of bacterial infections in cows, which result in production losses. The organisms that cause infections can be transmitted infectiously - from cow to cow - or environmentally, for example, on a milker's hands.

Milk from farms participating in the program is tested on a weekly basis to determine somatic cell counts. Producers earn financial bonuses on milk with low somatic cell counts.

The program also provides assistance in crop and financial management practices that can help dairy farmers be more profitable.

The $10,000 grant to the Sussex County Co-operative Milk Producers Association was awarded under the Jersey Fresh Matching Grant Program. This program awards matching funds for market development programs and for promotion of New Jersey-produced agricultural commodities.

New Jersey has 140 dairy farms. The state's milk production in 2001 totaled 233 million pounds.