|Annual Report 1999|
The Division of Dairy and Commodity Regulation serves many facets of the agriculture industry. One of its primary goals is to help retain a healthy economic environment for a viable, competitive dairy industry where consumers are assured of adequate supplies of milk at reasonable prices.
In other activities, the division oversees the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program and the commodity inspection and grading programs to help insure a constant supply of high quality, properly labeled fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, fish and seafood products for consumers in New Jersey and elsewhere. Certificates issued through the inspection and grading programs make it possible for Garden State farmers and agribusinesses to sell the inspected commodities in national and international markets.
In addition, the division provides services to New Jersey farmers, consumers and the food industry related to the production, storage, packing, marketing and sale of high quality agricultural products and works to protect against unfair, illegal and improper trade practices.
New Jersey's dairy industry is an important segment of its agricultural economy. The industry includes dairy farmers, animal breeders, dairy cooperatives, milk handlers, processors, distributors and retail stores, all of which are served by the division. In FY99, the state's 186 commercial and six institutional dairy farms produced just over 256 million pounds of milk valued at $43.3 million. New Jersey dairy farmers also produced heifers, cull cows, calves, grain, hay and other agricultural items, including breeding supplies such as calf embryos and semen.
Maintaining the Viability of Dairy Farms in the Garden State
The last decade has been an era of extreme economic distress for the dairy industry, nationwide and in New Jersey. To improve both the short- and long-term viability of this important segment of the agriculture industry, the division continued to offer a variety of programs aimed at whole herd health and management, including Johne's disease and mastitis control, financial management training, nutrient and crop management, and waste management.
In FY99, in addition to administering the over-order premium, the department provided staff support and a $100,000 grant to the New Jersey Farm Bureau for the Dairy Self-Help Program for milk producers. The effort is a continuation of the Garden State Milk Quality Initiative begun in 1995 as a joint effort with Rutgers Cooperative Extension to help dairy farmers improve milk production and quality.
By the third quarter of FY99, 54 dairy farmers, approximately 28 percent of New Jersey's dairy producers, and four regional dairy cooperatives - National Farmers Organization, Dairylea, Land O'Lakes and Dairy Farmers of America - were enrolled in the Garden State Milk Quality Program. In addition, six milk processing plants and nine milk haulers were cooperating with participating producers.
Under the program, bulk tank samples from participating farms were collected and cultured. Average somatic cell counts (SCC), indicators of milk quality and herd productivity, were taken for each herd since high SCC suggests less than optimum quality and herd productivity. Results that suggest a herd health problem were followed up with samples from each cow.
Since the program's inception, average SCC among herds in the program has continued to drop. Milk quality information is being provided to nine veterinarians within the state while two veterinary consultants in Maryland and Pennsylvania also receive monthly management reports pertaining to their clients in New Jersey.
Under this year's Dairy Self-Help Program, 10 producers enrolled, joining the 18 producers who completed in-depth analyses of net worth, cost of production and cash flow. Several producers used the data to obtain new financing for herd expansion and capital improvements such as new barns, milking parlors and machinery. The program will be expanded during 1999-2000.
Dairy Licensing, Bonding and Enforcement
In keeping with the mandate to maintain competition among New Jersey milk marketers, the division licensed 9,529 milk dealers, milk processing plants and retail stores and collected $368,884 in fees and penalties during FY99. Penalties collected from stores and dealers for a variety of infractions totaled $11,049 for the fiscal year.
Among the services provided by the department to New Jersey's dairy industry were the licensing and bonding of milk dealers to assure payments to producers, the dissemination of information needed by the milk industry and the mediation of disputes within the milk processing and distribution industry. Field investigators conducted inspections of 2,500 retail outlets to insure that they were licensed and adhering to the milk control laws and regulations, especially with regard to false or misleading advertisements.
Data Collection and Information Dissemination
In order to assess activities in the marketplace and to provide information for program and performance analysis, the department collects, processes and disseminates information on prices received by dairy farmers, milk production, milk sales, supermarket milk prices and other pertinent market data.
The department continued to provide administrative support for the Garden State Milk Council and the Dairy of Distinction Program. Division employees helped assess candidates for the "Dairy of Distinction" award, assisted in preparation of the Council's publication, staffed the Council at dairy industry meetings, and served as guest speakers at schools around the state to acquaint New Jersey youngsters with the state's dairy industry.
Dairy of Distinction Honors Awarded
Lazy Dairy Farms, operated by George Armbrecht and Laura Riley, received the Garden State Milk Council's Dairy of Distinction Award this year. The farm is located in Blairstown, Warren County. The Dairy of Distinction award is given annually to those dairy operations that are deemed the best representatives of the industry by virtue of general farm maintenance, farm efficiency, creativity, dedication and achievement in a rapidly changing marketplace.
Through NJDA's inspection and grading programs, growers obtain the certificates they need to sell produce and plants to other states and nations. The Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program and the commodity inspection and grading programs are among those offered by the Division of Dairy and Commodity Regulation to help insure a constant supply of high quality, properly labeled fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, red meat, fish and seafood products for consumers, in New Jersey, throughout the nation and around the world.
Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program
The Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program is a voluntary program designed to increase the sales of New Jersey's more than 70 agricultural products, including fruits, vegetables, salad mixes, fresh herbs, shell eggs and cut flowers. After registering with the Quality Grading Program, growers are permitted to use the Jersey Fresh logo on their packages, indicating that the contents have been inspected and meet quality standards equal to or better than U.S. No. 1. The use of the Jersey Fresh logo in any manner requires a license from the Quality Grading Program.
This inspection standard adds a quality assurance note to the overall Jersey Fresh marketing program that is welcomed by wholesale produce buyers and consumers who want high quality products uniformly sized and packed. In addition, the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program helps Garden State growers stand out in an increasingly competitive regional and national marketplace.
In FY99 224 growers enjoyed the economic benefits of joining the program, packing nearly 132 million pounds of product under the Quality Grading Program, a two percent increase over last year.
Commodity Inspection and Grading
With food safety and quality uppermost in consumers' minds, the commodity inspection and grading service offered by the department is particularly important. Most inspection services provided by the department are paid for by those for whom the grading and inspections are done. In a time of shrinking state resources, this kind of self-sustaining program is particularly important. In FY99, the program collected over $1.7 million in fees for services rendered.
Inspections performed for the poultry industry certified 1,167,456 cases of shell eggs as Grade A while 32,127,406 pounds of poultry also met specified standards. Over 442 million pounds of liquid or frozen egg products and more than nine million pounds of dried egg product were processed under departmental inspection supervision. The division supplied graders for voluntary grading and inspection of an additional 5,472 thirty-dozen cases of shell eggs and 2,811,982 pounds of poultry.
The division's inspection and grading unit also worked with growers, shippers, receivers and processors of fresh produce marketed through inter- or intrastate commerce. Inspections were made at shipping point on 39,024,500 pounds of produce, including most fruits and vegetables grown commercially in New Jersey, to insure that it met specific standards. Terminal market inspections were also performed on 64,943,200 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables received from other growing areas.
Inspections and certifications at two packing sheds enabled growers to ship over 2.4 million pounds of blueberries to Canada, a $1.6 million addition to New Jersey's agricultural economy. Tomato processing facilities also contracted with the department for grading of nearly 38,651,780 pounds of tomatoes to insure that they met grower-processor contract specifications.
Even the youngest consumers in the state benefited from the department's inspection efforts as inspectors at several plants certified 372,600 pounds of diced chicken under USDA specifications for use in the federal school lunch program.
The fish and fisheries products inspection program, begun in 1986 and operated in cooperation with the United States Department of Commerce, enables the department to provide a broad range of inspection and grading services to New Jersey's commercial fishing industry, including plant sanitation surveys, product quality grading and export certification. During FY99, 10,637,747 million pounds of fresh, frozen and canned fish were certified and inspected at the wholesale level.
The Bureau of Commodity Inspection and Grading continued to maintain contact with the state Office of Consumer Protection and the Office of the Regional Director for the federal Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act in order to aid in providing timely and proper responses to misbranding complaints.
Commodity Licensing and Bonding
Under the commodity licensing and bonding program, the department offers economic protection for New Jersey farmers who sell perishable agricultural commodities or hay, grain and straw to dealers and brokers on a credit basis. Licenses were issued to 122 produce dealers; 23 hay, grain and straw dealers; 14 shell egg dealers; and two live poultry dealers. Bonds totaling $4,140,707 were received and posted by the division.
It is estimated that 452,971 tons of animal feed, over 229,033 tons of fertilizers and 196,570 tons of liming material were sold in New Jersey last year. Through inspection, sampling and laboratory analysis of these products, coupled with enforcement actions against producers of mislabeled or substandard products, the department protects crop yields and promotes animal growth.
This year, 824 feed, fertilizer and lime manufacturers and distributors registered with the division. Field inspections covered 4,383 lots of feeds, fertilizers and liming materials to determine compliance with labeled guarantees. Of the 310 feed samples and 427 fertilizer samples collected for laboratory analysis, just over two percent of the feed samples and 10 percent of the fertilizer samples failed to meet the minimum nutrient levels stated on their labels. Of the 30 liming materials sampled, three failed to meet the nutrient which they were labeled. Label or registration violations found during field inspections resulted in those items being removed from sale.
Through the agricultural chemistry program, a total of $81,120 in registration fees and $106,546 in tonnage inspection fees was collected. In addition, penalties totaling $6,054 were assessed for fertilizer content violations, of which $1,522 was refunded to farmers and $4,532 was transmitted to the State Treasury.
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