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Secretary's Report to the State Board of Agriculture
February 9, 20092007 Census of Agriculture -- The 5-year census was released on Wednesday, February 4, revealing that the number of farms in New Jersey is at its highest level in 40 years, however, there has been a 9 percent decrease in land in farms. Market value of agricultural products is at an all-time high and the census showed that farmers are shifting to higher value specialty crops, with fresh cut herbs now ranking third in the nation in acres and parsley and escarole/endive ranking second. It also showed new, growing trends of organic, community supported agriculture and on farm energy generation.
Gypsy Moth Suppression Program -- The Department is proposing treatment on 65,794 acres of forested land to suppress gypsy moth caterpillars in May and June of this year. The number of acres proposed for treatment this year is about half of what was proposed in 2008, when 112,500 acres were targeted for spraying. The number of acres actually treated last year was 93,814. The proposed spray program includes 98 municipalities and agencies in 17 counties. Burlington, Atlantic, Ocean and Sussex counties account for more than half the acreage proposed for treatment. In addition, the State Department of Environmental Protection is planning to spray about 1,908 acres in state parks and forests. More than 339,000 acres of trees were defoliated by gypsy moth caterpillars in spring 2008, however, the rate of increase in the gypsy moth population showed signs of slowing. There had been a steady increase in population since 2004 when only 6,502 acres were defoliated. In 2005, that increased to 44,131 acres; in 2006, it was 125,743; and in 2007, 320,610 acres of trees were stripped. A scoping session was held on January 6 outlining the proposal and regional information sessions were held the week of January 12 in the north, central and southern parts of the state. Based on increased parasitism rates and gypsy moth population declines observed throughout the state from the ground surveys, only single applications are proposed using Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, (B.t.k.) in the 09 program. Municipalities have until February 6 to decide if they want to participate in this year’s aerial suppression program. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/gypsymoth.html.
State Food Purchase Program – The third quarter State Food Purchase Program payments will be issued on Friday, January 30, including the additional funding added by the Legislature and Governor Corzine as part of the economic stimulus package. Local food distribution agencies are reporting they have an adequate supply of food to meet continued increased demand due to the supplemental funding. The Department is working with the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure New Jersey is able to take advantage of every opportunity for additional surplus food shipments.
Salmonella/Peanut Butter Recall -- No commodity peanut butter is involved with the current peanut butter recall due to the recent outbreak of illnesses caused by Salmonella Typhimurium. The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the source as peanut butter and peanut paste produced by the Peanut Corporation of America at its Blakely, Georgia processing plant. The only company that USDA peanut butter was sent to for processing in New Jersey was Smuckers and a statement from this company can be found at www.smuckers.com. For information on what commercially purchased products may be affected, visit the link below:
www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm and www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/salmonellatyph.html.
Specialty Crop Block Grant -- The Department had received a $152,260 Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) from the USDA Farm Bill. A total of $26,000 of the funds will be used support the Agricultural Leadership Development Program and an entrepreneurial development training program plus department administrative expenses. However, due to the budget cuts to the Jersey Fresh, Jersey Fresh Matched Grants and the Jersey Grown programs, $111,034 of the specialty crop grant, which had been approved for use to support those programs, will be re-allocated to other industry projects that support specialty crops.
Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) – At least 38 states are involved in a nationwide CEM epidemiological investigation. There are 10 states with stallions that have been confirmed infected and 36 states with mares exposed to CEM, a transmissible exotic, venereal disease of horses caused by the bacterium Taylorella equigenitalis. CEM can spread among stallions if strict biosecurity measures are not maintained during semen collection. Most mares were bred with shipped semen and artificial insemination so the number of mares exposed is likely to grow as more stallions are confirmed as carriers. In New Jersey, nine mares were inseminated with semen from CEM infected stallions. Farms were quarantined during diagnosis and treatment. All cultures and serology tests performed to date in New Jersey have failed to demonstrated infection. CEM protocols require all mares to be treated after cultures, regardless of diagnosis.
Disaster Animal Response Training -- Cosponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the Animal Emergency Working Group, the Humane Society will hold a three-day introductory course at Rick's Saddle Shop in Cream Ridge on April 24-26, covering: Introduction to animals in disaster; the emergency management system; disaster preparedness for individuals and households, animal facilities, and communities; the Incident Command System (ICS); legal issues; communications; and teamwork. Other major topics covered include community animal needs/damage assessment; team response and procedures; animal care and handling; emergency animal shelters; equipment; and responder health and safety, including stress management. Table-top exercises will give students the chance to use and combine the skills learned during the training, including implementing ICS; communications; equipment; damage assessment; establishing and organizing a response; working with the media; responding to changing needs; and managing disaster resources including volunteers. To register, visit www.humanesocietyu.org/workshops_and_classes/on_site_workshops.html.
Horseperson of the Year Award -- Robert W. Allen has spent his life showing horses, judging competitions, teaching horsemanship and sharing his love of anything equine with thousands of others. This commitment to a thriving equine industry in the state earned him the title of 2008 New Jersey Horseperson of the Year from the Equine Advisory Board. Allen, owner and operator of Woodedge Equestrian School in Moorestown, was presented with the 2008 Governor's Trophy on January 25 at the 52nd Annual New Jersey Breeder's Dinner in Freehold, which celebrates the state's best in the equine field.
Pesticide Container Recycling – In 2008, 19,666 plastic pesticide containers weighing 18,276 pounds were collected in the Department’s pesticide container recycling program in Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic Counties. That represents a 271 percent increase in the number of containers collected and a 234 percent increase in weight over the 2007 program. In addition, recycling of the cardboard boxes which the pesticide containers come in was made available with more than 11,000 pounds of cardboard being recycled. Efforts are underway to expand the collection program to other regions of the state.