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Hunterdon, Burlington County Farmers Join State Board of Agriculture

For Immediate Release: August 16, 2002


Hope Gruzlovic




Two grain and hay farmers from Hunterdon and Burlington counties, and a Hunterdon County vegetable farmer have been sworn in as new members of the State Board of Agriculture.

R. Kenneth Totten of Ringoes, Hunterdon County, and Phillip D. Prickett, Jr., of Mount Holly, Burlington County, were recently sworn in as members representing the grain and hay industry, while Peter L. Melick of Lebanon, Hunterdon County, was sworn in to represent the vegetable industry. Totten and Prickett's terms will expire in 2006, while Melick's term will expire in 2005.

The State Board also elected David J. Kanach of Branchburg, Somerset County, to serve as president and Russell J. Marino of Swedesboro, Gloucester County, as vice president. Other members of the board are George L. Dean of Monroeville, Gloucester County; Dr. Stephen P. Dey II of Allentown, Monmouth County; and Neva Moore of Tabernacle, Burlington County.

Totten's farm has been in his family since 1917. The home farm consists of 140 acres where he grows corn, soybeans and hay. He also rents an additional 300 acres in the Ringoes area where he grows corn and soybeans.

Totten has been a member of the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture for 56 years, serving as first vice president of the board for the past eight years. In 1999, he was awarded the county board's Distinguished Service Award. He was active in the Hunterdon County Dairy Herd Improvement Association for many years and served as its director.

Totten served as community committeeman for the federal Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) from 1955 through 1965. He served on the Hunterdon County Agricultural Stabilization Conservation Committee from 1966 to 1976 and on the ASCS State Committee from 1977 to 1980. Totten also was chairman of the New Jersey Farm Service Agency during 2000 and 2001 when New Jersey was assisting farmers with drought relief.

Melick is co-owner of the 300-acre Melick's Town Farm in Oldwick, which grows and markets apples, peaches and other fruits and vegetables. He owns and operates two farm markets and also operates two pick-your-own operations where he offers peaches, apples and pumpkins. The farm includes a wholesale cider business, with customers throughout northern and central New Jersey. He also participates in two tailgate markets in northern New Jersey.

Melick has been a member of the New Jersey Vegetable Growers Association since 1992 and a member of the New Jersey Horticultural Society Board of Directors since 1993, including serving as president from 1997-1998. He has served on the Hunterdon County Agricultural Development Board since 1993, including as chairman from 1995 to 1999. He is currently second vice president of the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture and has been a member of the Executive Board since 1994. He also has been a member of the New Jersey Tomato Council since 1994.

Prickett owns and operates P.D. Prickett, Inc., which consists of 550 acres in New Jersey where he raises soybeans, field corn, small grains, hay, sweet corn, pumpkins and potatoes. The operation also includes another 390 acres in Maryland where he grows corn, soybeans and rye straw.

Prickett joined the Young Farmers and Ranchers Association in 1974, and has been a member of the New Jersey Farm Bureau since 1975 and Agway, Inc., since 1976. He also has been a member of the American Soybean Association since 1976 and director from 1976 to 1979. He received national recognition as a member of the United Soybean Board from 1991 to 2000 and was one of 62 soybean producers serving the national soybean check-off program as an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Prickett also was a member of the Burlington County Board of Agriculture from 1985 to 1988, serving as treasurer from 1987 to 1988. He has been a member of the Agricultural Stabilization Conservation Committee since 1979, serving as chairman from 1981 to 1982. He also was a director of the New Jersey Council of Farmer Cooperatives. Since 1978, he has been a member of the Cooperative Growers Association. He was a founding director of the New Jersey Grain and Forage Association in 1988 and currently serves as treasurer. He was on the Lumberton Township Committee from 1991 to 2000, serving as mayor in 1995 and 1999, and deputy mayor in 1996, 1998 and 2000.

The eight-member State Board of Agriculture is the highest agricultural policy-making body in New Jersey. Only those who are involved in producing farm crops or livestock products are eligible, and membership must represent each of the four leading agricultural commodities.