FSMA Information Session -- More than 50 farmers, retailers, educators and regulatory officials who are part of New Jersey and Delaware’s produce industry gathered at the Rutgers EcoComplex to discuss the impending implementation of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on March 23. FSMA was passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law by the President in 2011, following a series of foodborne illnesses linked to fresh produce, everything from spinach to peppers to cantaloupe. It expanded the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulatory authority in the world of food beyond processed and prepared foods to include raw produce on the farm as well. The session, sponsored by the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA) and presented by the New Jersey and Delaware Departments of Agriculture, was aimed at further spreading the word to farmers about the looming FSMA mileposts. The first four FDA rules to implement the law – including the Produce Safety regulation, the one most likely to affect farmers – are expected to be finalized in October 2015 and then move quickly to an implementation phase. After that, farmers, depending upon the size of their farm, will have several years to reach full compliance. Some very small farms may be able to exempt themselves from the law, if they sell a majority of their produce direct-to-the-public. But those who depend upon sales to retail buyers may lose markets if they do not comply.
Equine Herpes Virus Quarantine -- The Department quarantined a Westampton farm in February after a 5-year-old horse was diagnosed with the highly infectious equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) caused by equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) respiratory strain. EHM is the often deadly, neurologic form of EHV-1 infection. The horse had rapid progression of clinical signs typical of EHV-1 including front and rear lack of muscle control, hind limb weakness, stumbling and right facial paralysis. The animal was humanely euthanized on February 14. A 21-day quarantine was placed on the barn on the property. No other horses showed signs of illness. In 2013, there were three cases of EHM in New Jersey. There were no cases in 2014.
Online Beekeeper Registration – Adding to the NJFARMS, online forms and registration management system, New Jersey beekeepers may now register as new beekeepers, update the registration of existing beekeepers, and add or remove over wintering beekeeping locations at www.njfarms.nj.gov. The Department requires beekeepers to register their hives for inspection to ensure the honey bees are both pest and disease free. This action prevents and controls the potential spread of disease within bee populations. NJFARMS also includes organic registration for those selling or distributing certified organic products in the state, and the store milk licensing for sellers of milk and milk products to obtain a New Jersey State Milk License online.
Pig Meetings – The Division of Animal Health organized two meetings on Swine Enteric Coronavirus Disease (SECD). SECD is an emergent enteric disease that can create tremendous financial loss for pork producers in New Jersey. It causes diarrhea and death primarily in young pigs. SECD has been seen in other parts of the world, but only recently entered the United States in the spring of 2013. It has quickly spread throughout the country. The first SECD meeting held on February 10in Burlington County was for Veterinarians and Producers and talked about diagnosis, treatment and programs for farms in case SECD is diagnosed in a herd. The second SECD meeting was held on February 12 for the veterinarians and field staff as well as member of the Department of Health. How Influenza A, a corona virus, evolved to be pathogenic, biology and pathology of SECD and a summary of swine origin Influenza-A infections in people was presented . Pig producers are encouraged to contact the New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (609-406-6999) if they or their veterinarian suspect SECD in their herd.
Maple Syrup Season -- Secretary Fisher today kicked off maple sugaring season in New Jersey with a visit to Lusscroft Farm in Wantage on March 13, where he and a handful of officials got a hands-on lesson on extracting sap from maple trees and turning it into syrup. Lusscroft Farm, on 500 acres of state-owned land in Sussex County, is maintained and operated by the Heritage and Agriculture Association. In a typical year, 3,500 gallons of sap is extracted from the property’s sugar maple trees to make 80 gallons of syrup. Sale of the syrup raises $8,000 that goes toward operation of the farm. Frank Hennion who runs the farm’s maple sugaring activities said they usually begin their season around President’s Day but got off to a late start this year due to the extreme cold temperatures. The trees need 40 to 50-degree days and subfreezing nights for the sap to rise. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, New Jersey has 33 farms in eight counties with 2,685 maple taps that produced 406 gallons of syrup. Sussex County had the most farms producing syrup.
Child and Adult Care Food Program Week -- Division of Food and Nutrition Director Rose Tricario commemorated Child and Adult Care Food Program Week on March 18 with a visit to HomeFront, a homeless shelter in Ewing Township. Tricario and CACFP Coordinator Tanya Johnson helped serve about 50 children who reside at the shelter a dinner of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, whole wheat bread, tropical fruit salad and milk. There are currently 85,000 eligible participants at 782 different facilities. The program is federally funded and administered by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. HomeFront began participating in CACFP in July of 2003. About 100 children are served breakfast, dinner and evening snack each day. Governor Christie proclaimed March 15-21 as Child and Adult Care Food Program Week in New Jersey, based on National CACFP Week, a national education and information campaign sponsored annually by the National CACFP Sponsors Association.
Zoltowski Named Division of Plant Industry Director -- Joseph Zoltowski of Cape May Court House is the new Director of the Department’s Division of Plant Industry, replacing Carl Schulze who retired after 33 years. Zoltowski worked as a supervising entomologist for the Gypsy Moth, Nursery Inspection and CAPS survey programs and served as Chief for the Bureau of Plant Pest and Disease Control for 12 years. As Division Director, Zoltowski will be supervising multiple functions, including but not limited to: providing disease and pest protection through detection, control, and eradication, inspecting nurseries and plant dealers for plant pests, regulating importation of certain plants into New Jersey, performing tests related to the essential honey bee population, and biological control of plant pest efforts at the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect-rearing Laboratory.
FFA Advocacy and Legislative Leadership Day -- Nearly 300 FFA members, advisors, agriculture and education leaders, and legislators attended the event in Trenton on February 26 that featured talks by Secretary Fisher, and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer. Forty members also visited the New Jersey State House and met with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
NJ FFA Horticultural Exposition -- Students from 25 middle and high schools displayed their floral and horticultural talent in the New Jersey FFA Horticultural Exposition at Mercer County Community College March 13-14. There were more than 800 entries and 77 students who participated in the on-site Floral Design Career Development event. Twenty-two industry representatives served as judges throughout the event.
Upcoming Events – Jr. Breeder’s Symposium -- The educational symposium for adults and children will be held 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 28 at Rutgers University’s Cook Campus, former NJ Agriculture Museum Building, New Brunswick. NJ Equine and Agriculture Expo -- May 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Horse Park of New Jersey at Stone Tavern, Allentown. The Expo, sponsored by the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board, will be held in conjunction with the 2015 Jersey Fresh Three Day event. Animal Emergency Working Group Symposium -- The AEWG will hold its 17th Annual Symposium at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, April 27 at the Horse Park of New Jersey Allentown to train state and county animal response teams in animal first aid. During the daylong seminar, attendees will get hands-on experience in aiding pets and small ruminants and will learn how to make a first aid kit. They also will hear speakers about personal protective equipment and see how to tie knots and make halters and leads.