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before the
Presented by Arthur R. Brown, Jr., Secretary of Agriculture
September 11, 1997
For Immediate Release: Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic

Good morning, Chairwoman Molnar and members of the Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning. It is my pleasure to meet with you this morning to present the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's fiscal year 2000 capital budget request.

As you know, the Department of Agriculture works very closely with all segments of the multi-billion dollar food and agriculture industry here in the Garden State. This diverse industry is supported by a variety of programs and services provided by the department. And these programs and services have often been reinforced by funding recommended by the Capital Budget and Planning Commission. For example, in FY98, this Commission recommended funding for a grandstand pavilion at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown as well as funding for a laboratory glassware washer/dryer in the department's animal health laboratory. Both of these projects are nearly completed and each, in its own way, provides significant benefits to the livestock segment of the Garden State's agriculture industry. For the current fiscal year, the Commission approved funding for upgrading the HVAC system at the Philip Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory in Ewing so that we can improve production and better protect the health and well-being of our employees there. We are working with the Division of Building and Construction to complete this project. Our requests for capital improvements always stem from our constant effort to meet the every-changing needs of the agriculture industry and the many other constituencies that depend on the department and improve the delivery of services and programs to them. In that regard, NJDA's capital request for FY2000 is no different. The three specific capital improvement projects we seek funding for in the coming year are all aimed at helping us provide a wider range of services more efficiently and cost-effectively. The first request would fund an upgrade of our 10-year-old central computer system. Right now, this system costs nearly $100,000 a year to maintain. As you may know, hardware and software maintenance costs tend to increase as we invest in new system-wide software products needed to run programs offered by the department. Our current Digital Equipment Corporation VMS operating system has performed well over the last decade, serving our local area network and providing a good foundation for the development of new database applications. However, the system has begun to show its age. Network transactions have slowed significantly as users, field offices and new software have been added to the network. The slow-down adversely affects every employee in our agency and all of our programs. And, of course, our agency, like so many others, is concerned with being prepared for the year 2000 conversion.

Our request for $202,000 would let us change from current VMS to NT technology. The change would accomplish a lot of different things:

  • It would provide a new central computer system which is Year 2000 compliant.

    It would reduce our annual maintenance costs by 60 percent.

    It would increase system capacity and speed, both of which are particularly important to the use of geographic imaging systems for our numerous conservation and land use programs.

    It would improve the department's local area network by enabling us to acquire and install 10 system printers throughout the department.

  • Also, it would provide additional capacity and speed.

I ask your support of this initiative. Our second FY 2000 capital funding request is related to the Horse Park of New Jersey at Stone Tavern. It is a facility that you have all heard me speak of in most of my appearances before this Commission. You know how strongly I feel about carrying out the master plan for developing the 147-acre Horse Park into the finest equine facility of its type on the entire East Coast. The Park opened to the public in 1988 with an administration building, a 60-stall barn and two show rings constructed with state funds. Since then the industry has contributed to the Park's development by funding three stall pavilions for 215 stalls, construction of a schooling ring and numerous improvements for three-day eventing and driving marathons, renovations of the carriage dressage and grand prix arena, expansion of the camper and camper parking areas and more than $200,000 in landscaping. In addition, this Commission has been extremely supportive of the development of the Horse Park of New Jersey. Your past support has enabled us to pave the main access road and camper area, improve two access roads within the park and construct a covered grandstand which provides a comfortable, sheltered public viewing area that is extremely popular with both spectators and vendors. Thanks to improvements like these, the Park's popularity continues to grow. This year, the Park is hosting 30 weekends of activity including the state 4-H championships; regional dressage championships; the national Standardbred pleasure horse show; horse shows for the handicapped; the state FFA horse judging event; and numerous breed shows and cross-country events. This October the Horse Park will be the site of the nationally- significant 1998 United States Dressage Federation regional finals and they will return in September 1999. With all of this, however, the Park lacks year-round capability. Beginning in FY2000, we are requesting funding for a two-phase project that would result in a covered work area and indoor facility which, when completed, would enable the Park to host both equine and non-equine events year- round, subject to the approval of the Department of Environmental Protection. Because of its size, construction of a 250 ft. x 400 ft. x 22 ft. covered facility, with seating for 2,500 spectators, will have to be completed over a two year period. In FY2000, we would like to acquire a needed parcel of land for the construction of a second access road, begin design and site preparation and complete half of the actual construction. Therefore, I am requesting $3,513,000 in fiscal year 2000 to begin work on this ambitious but worthwhile project. In FY2001, we would return to seek funding for the balance of the project in the amount of $2,602,000. Assuming approval of the FY2000 and 2001 Horse Park expenditures, in FY2003 through 2006, our capital needs at the Park would be for additional stabling as the anticipated demand for use of the indoor facility will cause a shortage of permanent, covered horse stalls. This request represents a large investment by the state. However, it=s one that would generate a tremendous return. Using this year as an example and based upon proven formulas developed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, the economic impact to the local area of having 61 days of activity at the Horse Park will be $15,250,000. Assuming a conservative usage of 150 days per year for both equine and non-equine events, this public investment could yield economic benefits to the area of more than $37.5 million annually. The third portion of our fiscal year 2000 capital request is for funding to add an extension to an existing accessory building at the beneficial insect laboratory in Ewing. Currently 62 ft. by 52 ft., this building is used to store agricultural field implements and greenhouse and laboratory supplies used in the production of beneficial insects. The production and release of these beneficial insects, as you know, saves farmers and homeowners money by reducing their reliance on costly chemical pest control agents, thereby reducing the impact of these chemicals on the environment. The existing storage building is filled to capacity so that materials and supplies have to be stored in the laboratory in space that could otherwise be used to raise beneficial insects. Requested funding will enable us to build a 1,550-square-foot addition to the storage building, increasing capacity by 48 percent. I am, therefore, requesting $153,000 for this project in fiscal year 2000. This project is also part of a multi-year facility improvement. We would like to replace the cooling towers at the beneficial insect lab in fiscal year 2001 and its two boilers in fiscal year 2002. Another portion of our five-year plan includes a capital budget request for fiscal year 2001for repair of the greenhouse attached to the Health/Agriculture laboratory building. Thirty-two years of use has taken its toll on this facility. The temperature controls are obsolete and malfunctioning and ventilator controls need to be replaced. Existing lighting should be replaced with high-intensity sodium lights. Shading should be installed to protect plants and other materials. To accomplish these improvements and make the greenhouse a more productive component of the department's regulatory and diagnostic efforts, I will be requesting $70,000. I appreciate the opportunity to bring these three projects before you as the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's fiscal year 2000 capital budget request. Now I and the members of my staff with me would be pleased to respond to any of your questions.