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Agri-Tourism, Seafood, Meat Goats, Cooperative Efforts Highlighted at Convention

For Immediate Release: January 26, 2005

Contact: Jeff Beach (609)292-8896

(ATLANTIC CITY) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture charted a course of strengthening existing markets and branching out into new ones as the agency’s Economic Development Strategies for the new year were unveiled today at the 2005 New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in Atlantic City. “Our Garden State’s farmers face many challenges, but just as importantly they recognize the opportunities that exist in our marketplace,” New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus said. “By expanding our existing markets and pursuing new ones created by changing demographics, we can ensure a viable future for the state’s agricultural industry.” Strategies for 2005 include: - Helping the recently established Agri-tourism Advisory Council determine the extent of current agri-tourism activity and identifying greater opportunities to help farmers supplement their income with such approaches as pick-your-own operations, festivals and corn mazes. - Expanding pilot projects aimed at finishing and marketing meat goats to meet a growing demand for the meat among New Jersey’s ethnic populations. - Working with restaurant associations and sellers and buyers of seafood to expand interest in the recently established “Jersey Seafood” brand of fish and shellfish. - Expanding purchases by school districts and government agencies, such as the New Jersey Department of Corrections, of under-valued and over-produced New Jersey agricultural products. NJDA staff members also reviewed a number of initiatives introduced at last year’s convention and remarked on their progress. Of 100 strategies introduced at last year’s convention, 52 had been successfully completed and 42 had seen progress made. Among those that had moved forward were: - Working with Rutgers University and the New Jersey Farm Bureau to determine the needs of national produce distributors and develop ways for New Jersey producers to complement their existing suppliers. - Helping New Jersey’s milk producers in implementing business plans - Identifying non-traditional agriculture products that are in increasing demand among new immigrants, such as daikon radishes and goat meat, and helping New Jersey farmers to meet those demands. The convention is the largest annual gathering of the agricultural industry. More than 100 representatives of county agriculture boards, Pomona granges and breed and commodity organizations will gather to discuss issues affecting the Garden State’s agricultural industry and help set agricultural policy for the coming year. The convention also will feature the election by delegates of two new members to the State Board of Agriculture, the policy-making body of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. The 2005 Economic Development Strategies can be accessed at: www.state.nj.us/agriculture/05strategies.htm.