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For Immediate Release: September 22, 2004


Lynne Richmond




(WOODBRIDGE) –New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today received the Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award from the New Jersey Food Council at its annual Good Government Breakfast at the Woodbridge Hilton in Iselin.

The Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award recognizes the significant accomplishments of a regulatory leader. The award honors the memory of the highly respected Thomas W. Kelly, who served long and honorably in the state Division of Consumer Affairs, then as Superintendent of Weights and Measures. After retiring from state government, Kelly joined the Food Council as a regulatory consultant.

“The food and agriculture complex is a very important sector of New Jersey business and this award recognizes the close relationship we have forged between the food and agriculture industries,” said Secretary Kuperus. “We have many examples that our partnership of working closely together has helped strengthen both the food retailers and restaurant owners in addition to helping sustain farmers and fishermen in New Jersey.”

Appointed Agriculture Secretary in January 2002, Kuperus’ role in the Department has been to strengthen the relationship between retailers and farmers and promote Jersey Fresh. The food and agriculture complex in the state is a $62.5 billion industry.

“As a state agriculture official, Secretary Kuperus has been accessible and responsive to the interests and concerns of the New Jersey food distribution industry by working with New Jersey Food Council on many ‘farm-to-table’ issues, including produce marketing, organic regulations, biosecurity, country-of-origin labeling, anti-obesity and Jersey Fresh,” said Linda Doherty, President of the New Jersey Food Council. “We wanted to recognize Secretary Kuperus for his significant role as a public policy leader that forges public/private partnerships and promotes the food distribution industry in New Jersey.”

Kuperus has worked to strengthen and expand the state’s well-known “Jersey Fresh” program and recently launched a Jersey Seafood website to provide information on New Jersey seafood products. The Jersey Seafood site features New Jersey chefs using both Jersey Fresh produce as well as Jersey-harvested seafood.

Under Kuperus’ leadership, the Department developed an Agricultural Smart Growth Plan, which maps out the future development of agriculture in a manner consistent with plans to direct the state’s changing landscape. In addition, the Secretary proposed a series of economic development strategies for 10 major sectors of the agricultural industry to provide more opportunities for farmers.

The Secretary also is a national as well as statewide advocate for agricultural interests. Currently, he serves as President of the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture.