Dairy Hearing -- The Department held a hearing on July 24 to determine whether a minimum price for purchasing milk from New Jersey dairy producers should be set above the federal milk marketing order minimum and what other short- and long-term measures should be taken to protect New Jersey’s dairy industry. A majority of the state’s dairy producers requested the hearing to address their dilemma of rising production costs without corresponding rises in prices they receive. Producers testifying at the hearing cited rising fuel, feed and fertilizer bills and fluctuating prices as putting them on the brink. The Department will issue a statement by August 8 of actions to be taken.
Hunger Initiative – Governor Jon S. Corzine’s Hunger Initiative was included in the Fiscal 2007 budget and will spend an additional $4 million during this fiscal year to help feed 500,000 more people and make infrastructure improvements to feeding operations throughout the state. The Department is finalizing implementation plans for the initiative and the Governor plans to announce details about the program in September.
Disaster Declaration -- Governor Corzine has sent a letter requesting a Secretarial Disaster Designation from United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns. The request came after Damage Assessment Reports compiled by USDA’s Farm Service Agency showed that damage to crops in New Jersey counties occurred not only due to severe rains and flooding of June 23, but also from weather extremes throughout this growing season. A declaration of seasonal disaster from Secretary Johanns could open up more opportunities for New Jersey farmers to access federal assistance.
Legislators Tour– Seven legislators and their guests participated in the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Legislators Tour of Burlington County, Thursday, July 27. Senators Lance, Allen and Bark, and Assemblymen Fisher, Chatzidakis, Malone, and Barnes toured Rutgers EcoComplex and several Burlington County farms. Legislators found the tour rewarding and learned a lot about the needs of the agricultural industry.
Marketing Report – Market News Reporting: The USDA Market News Service is once again reported New Jersey vegetable prices to buyers throughout the country. To access Market News Service reports, go to www.ams.usda.gov/marketnews.htm. From there, produce price reports from around the country can be accessed. People also can sign up to have reports e-mailed to them every day, including the daily report from New Jersey.
Jersey Fresh Report: The "Jersey Fresh Availability & Forecast Report" continues updating the region’s produce industry, Cooperative Extension staff, Department personnel, restaurateurs, Jersey Fresh licensed growers, and food media communicators on the availability of Jersey Fresh produce. Rutgers also now produces a bi-weekly “What’s in Season?” on RCRE web pages and e-mailing to interested consumers on a regular basis.
Community Farmers Markets: Six new community farmers markets have opened for the 2006 season in: Freehold, Clifton, Kearney, Hackensack and two in Newark. Secretary Kuperus has visited Freehold and is planning to celebrate National Community Farmers Market Week on August 10 at the Kearney Farmers Market. The Secretary also has visited Roselle Park and Rutherford farmers markets.
Marketing Grant: New Jersey has received a Rural Business Enterprise Grant for the project “Assessment and Dissemination of Best Practices for Farmer’s Markets in New Jersey.” The $70,000 grant will inform rural New Jersey growers about the best methods for direct marketing and help them make informed decisions about incorporating direct marketing into their business model. The Rutgers Food Innovation Center will administer the grant, with a qualified third party contractor conducting the research.
Processors Tour: Secretary Kuperus and staff conducted a food processors and fertilizer plant tour in South Jersey, visiting Growmark in Bridgeton, Seabrook Brothers in Seabrook, F&S Produce in Rosenhayn and Violet Packing in Williamstown. The Secretary talked to them about the possibility of becoming involved in the Hunger Initiative, through nutrient-dense food purchases.
Farmland Preservation Legislation-- Five farmland preservation appropriation bills are awaiting the Governor’s signature. Four of the measures request a total of $91 million for the county easement purchase and state acquisitions programs and for farmland preservation in the Highlands region. Provisions also were included to provide funding for the soil and water conservation cost-share program by reappropriating $341,275 in interest earnings from 1989, 1992 and 1995 open space bond funds. Another bill would appropriate $6.515 million from "Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund" for grants to certain nonprofit organizations for farmland preservation purposes.
Plant Industry Exercise -- Staff from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture participated on a full scale Incident Command System exercise simulating the introduction of an exotic forest insect European wood wasp, Sirex noctulio, into New Jersey. The purpose of the exercise was to rehearse both the USDA and NJDA’s ability to respond to a plant health emergency using the Incident Command System.