(TRENTON) – Vegetable growing, the second-largest sector of New Jersey agriculture, will be the focus of a task force geared toward strengthening market opportunities, Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus announced today.
The task force, composed of vegetable producers, representatives of New Jersey Farm Bureau, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Research and the Agricultural Experiment Station, will be led by State Board of Agriculture member Robert “Matty” Matarazzo, the owner-operator of Matarazzo Farms, Four Sisters Winery, Doe Hollow Bed and Breakfast and RJM Marketing, a consulting business offering marketing advice to agri-businesses. Department personnel will serve as support staff.
“This task force will identify and recommend strategies and changes, both short-term and long-term, to bolster market opportunities and reposition New Jersey’s vegetable growers in the marketplace,” said Secretary Kuperus. “We’ve used this approach successfully before with our peach industry.”
“We want to define all the market possibilities, both within the Garden State and elsewhere,” Matarazzo said. “Our farmers produce some of the best vegetables in the world, and we want to be more aggressive in developing the markets for these outstanding products.”
Matarazzo said goals of the task force will include:
-- Bolstering the Jersey Fresh marketing campaign
-- Redirecting state and federal funds to help vegetable growers
-- Working with produce brokers to expand their market areas and emphasize the quality of New Jersey vegetables
-- Examine creating more cooperatives to achieve better market value and supply
-- Recommend ways to make auction markets more economically fair to producers
In the 2002 Census of Agriculture conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, New Jersey’s vegetable growers produced $167.9 million of vegetables on 1,442 farms covering 63,183 acres. New Jersey vegetables are sold to a wide array of markets, such as food processors, retailers, and directly to consumers through more than 450 roadside markers and nearly 80 community farmers markets.
Any vegetable growers who have questions about the task force may call Logan Brown in the Division of Markets at (609) 292-8856.