National Outstanding Young Farmer – New Jersey’s 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer John Melick attended the National Outstanding Young Farmer Congress February 17-20 and was named one of four National Outstanding Young Farmers. Melick, along with Joseph Geremia of Connecticut, Ryan Keller of Wisconsin and Chad Budy of Oklahoma, were the top four out of a field of 10 finalists.
Community Food Pantry Fund -- This year, New Jersey taxpayers have the opportunity for the first time to donate a portion of their 2010 income tax refund or make a donation to the Community Food Pantry Fund, through a check-off contribution on state income tax forms. The Community Food Pantry Fund check-off box can be found on the 2010 Form NJ-1040 tax return on Line Item #63 “Other Designated Contribution.” It is the ninth fund donation item, listed between NJ Veterans Haven Support Fund and Cat and Dog Spayed/Neuter Fund. Money collected for the fund, to be administered by the Department of Agriculture, will be used exclusively for food purchases and will be distributed only to eligible or current NJDA-contracted emergency feeding operations through the State Food Purchase Program. Governor Christie and the State Legislature allocated $6,818,000 for the current fiscal year’s New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Food Purchase Program (SFPP). The money is distributed quarterly to the state’s six food banks for the purchase of healthy foods, with an emphasis on buying produce from New Jersey farmers. The SFPP is in its fourth year. In addition to the SFPP, the Department also distributes United States Department of Agriculture-donated food to the six food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Horseperson of the Year Award -- Dennis A. Drazin, Chairman of the New Jersey Racing Commission, and Thomas Luchento, President of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, were presented with the 2010 Governor’s Trophy for co-Horseperson of the Year on Sunday, January 30 at the 54th Annual New Jersey Breeder’s Luncheon in Eastampton. The two were honored for their joint efforts to bolster the state’s horseracing industry. In addition to the Governor’s Trophy, the annual Breeder’s Luncheon celebrated the state’s best in the equine field in 2010. Other awards presented at the event were: Secretary of Agriculture Award for the New Jersey Standardbred of the Year: Rock N Roll Heaven; Secretary of Agriculture Award for the New Jersey Thoroughbred of the Year: Love That Dance; New Jersey Sire Stakes Horse of the Year: Put On A Show; New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award: Bria Cherelle Barnes, Scotch Plains; Sara Dubinin Scholarship: Samantha Canino, Lumberton; New Jersey Equestrian of the Year: Anna Matthews, Belvidere, representing the New Jersey 4-H Program.
2011 State Agricultural Convention – The annual convention was held February 8 and 9 in Cherry Hill and featured four listening sessions on Farm Labor, Farmland Preservation and Right to Farm, Farm Regulations and Common Sense and Food Safety and Product Traceability. Governor Christie’s Chief of Staff Richard Bagger addressed the convention and expressed the Governor’s support for the agricultural industry and his desire to continue building the Jersey Fresh brand. The delegates nominated two new State Board of Agriculture members, Richard Norz and Rob Swanekamp. Also at the convention, several awards were presented:
- 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer – John Melick
- 2011 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award – W. Peter Staats, a beef cattle and hay farmer from Somerset County.
- Patrick J. Mullen Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program Award -- Maugeri Farms of Woolwich Township. This annual award is given to a grower who did an outstanding job of packing only the highest quality produce under the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program.
- NJ Agricultural Society Tony Russo Farmers Marketing Award – Hunter’s Farm Market in Cinnaminson.
- Garden State Seafood Association Award for Commercial Seafood Producers – The late Captain John Larson of Barnegat Light, owner of Viking Village.
Gypsy Moth – Two municipalities in Camden County have opted for treatment of gypsy moth caterpillars in 2011. Bacillus thuringiensis, var.kurstaki, (B.t.k.) will be applied to 274 acres in Waterford and Winslow Townships. In the proposed treatment areas, egg masses ranged from 960-1,080 egg masses per acre. A total of 88 municipalities in 19 counties were surveyed last fall and three towns had areas that qualified for aerial spraying. One town opted not to participate in the program due to financial constraints. The Department has requested $116,444 from the USDA Forest Service in cost-share monies to assist participating municipalities with treatment costs. The USDA Forest Service has not yet committed to federal funding for this year’s project for reimbursement to participating municipalities. Gypsy moth suppression activities are scheduled to begin May 4.
Beginning Beekeepers – Interest in learning how to be a beekeeper in New Jersey remains strong. To date, the Rutgers Office of Continuing Education Bee-ginner’s Beekeeping Class in April is full with 65 registered students. The second class scheduled for May is almost full. One of the instructors of the class is State Apiarist Tim Schuler.
Conservation Poster Contest -- New Jersey's Conservation Poster Contest winners received recognition at the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Annual Meeting. Cynthia Chen from Livingston received second place in the NACD National Poster Contest in the Grade 10-12 category and will receive $75 and a certificate. Yanjie Qiu of Princeton Junction received Honorable Mention in the Grade 7-9 category and will receive a certificate from the National Associatin of Conservation Districts. Their posters also were displayed at the NACD's 65th Annual Conference held January 30-February 2, 2011 in Nashville, TN.
Summer Food Service – Outreach has begun to increase participation in the state’s Summer Food Service Program, which provides federal funding to organizations to feed students lunch when school is not in session during the summer months. Through partnerships with the state’s food banks, two outreach meetings were held and application training sessions will begin in March.
State Food Purchase Program – Third-quarter State Food Purchase Program checks totaling more than $2 million were distributed to the six state-contracted food banks the first week in February.
Upcoming Department Events:
March 25, 2011 – The New Jersey Animal Emergency Working Group will hold its annual symposium in New Brunswick.
March 26, 2011 – The New Jersey Junior Breeder Symposium will be held on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Hands on sessions for all species are schedule.