(WOODBRIDGE) –New Jersey Agriculture Secretary
Charles M. Kuperus today received the Thomas W. Kelly
Government Service Award from the New Jersey Food Council
at its annual Good Government Breakfast at the Woodbridge
Hilton in Iselin.
The Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award recognizes the significant
accomplishments of a regulatory leader. The award honors the memory of
the highly respected Thomas W. Kelly, who served long and honorably in
the state Division of Consumer Affairs, then as Superintendent of Weights
and Measures. After retiring from state government, Kelly joined the
Food Council as a regulatory consultant.
“The food and agriculture complex is a very important sector of New Jersey
business and this award recognizes the close relationship we have forged between
the food and agriculture industries,” said Secretary Kuperus. “We
have many examples that our partnership of working closely together has helped
strengthen both the food retailers and restaurant owners in addition to helping
sustain farmers and fishermen in New Jersey.”
Appointed Agriculture Secretary in January 2002, Kuperus’ role
in the Department has been to strengthen the relationship between retailers
and farmers and promote Jersey Fresh. The food and agriculture complex
in the state is a $62.5 billion industry.
“As a state agriculture official, Secretary Kuperus has been accessible
and responsive to the interests and concerns of the New Jersey food distribution
industry by working with New Jersey Food Council on many ‘farm-to-table’ issues,
including produce marketing, organic regulations, biosecurity, country-of-origin
labeling, anti-obesity and Jersey Fresh,” said Linda Doherty, President
of the New Jersey Food Council. “We wanted to recognize Secretary Kuperus
for his significant role as a public policy leader that forges public/private
partnerships and promotes the food distribution industry in New Jersey.”
Kuperus has worked to strengthen and expand the state’s well-known “Jersey
Fresh” program and recently launched a Jersey Seafood website to
provide information on New Jersey seafood products. The Jersey Seafood
site features New Jersey chefs using both Jersey Fresh produce as well
as Jersey-harvested seafood.
Under Kuperus’ leadership, the Department developed an Agricultural
Smart Growth Plan, which maps out the future development of agriculture
in a manner consistent with plans to direct the state’s changing
landscape. In addition, the Secretary proposed a series of economic development
strategies for 10 major sectors of the agricultural industry to provide
more opportunities for farmers.
The Secretary also is a national as well as statewide advocate for agricultural
interests. Currently, he serves as President of the Northeast Association
of State Departments of Agriculture.