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Agriculture Secretary Credits Hard Work and Innovation of Garden State's Farmers
For Immediate Release: October 17, 2007
Contact: Jeff Beach
(609) 292-5531

(TRENTON) – New Jersey’s agricultural operators saw their cash receipts rise for the third straight year in 2006, a 6 percent increase over 2005, from $873,507,000 to $923,933,000, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Combined with an increase in net farm income over the same period, the data show an improving trend for the Garden State’s farmers.

While welcoming the improving financial picture, New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus acknowledged that some sectors of the state’s agricultural industry are faring better than others and that work remains to be done to ensure that all of New Jersey’s farmers share in the upward trends.

“These trends bode well for our industry, especially compared to national and regional numbers that show either no increase or slight decreases in cash receipts and the net farm income that results after expenses are deducted from receipts,” said Secretary Kuperus. “New Jersey’s cash receipts increases from 2005 to 2006 cut across several categories, and included a 51-percent increase for blueberries, 56-percent increase for sweet corn and 36-percent increase for peppers. However, we also saw a 21-percent decrease for tomatoes and a 20-percent decrease for dairy products.”

In the period from 2003-06, New Jersey’s overall farm cash receipts increased by 9 percent, signaling a growth in the prices being paid to farmers. Ornamental horticulture remained the state’s leading agricultural sector during that time, followed by vegetables and fruits, equine operations and field crops such as hay.

“Cash receipts are only one piece of the puzzle of farm profitability and viability,” said Secretary Kuperus. “The rising cost of production inputs, annual differences in crop yields and acres produced and variations in market dynamics all impact the farmer’s bottom line. We will continue to work to bolster those sectors among New Jersey’s diverse agriculture that are not yet sharing in these upward trends.”

The rise in farm gate receipts compared favorably to a slight downward trend nationally. Nationwide, cash receipts dipped about 1 percentage point, from $240.7 billion in 2005 to $239.3 billion in 2006. Regionally, New Jersey’s trends also ran counter to those in most neighboring Northeastern states. The member states of the Northeastern Association of State Departments of Agriculture, which covers the eastern seaboard from Maine to Delaware, reported a collective 3-percent decline in cash receipts from 2004-06, according to NASS statistics.

“Comparing New Jersey’s statistics to other states in the Northeast gives a more accurate picture,” said Brian Schilling, Associate Director of the Rutgers University Food Policy Institute. “New Jersey’s agriculture has a lot more in common with those other Northeastern states than with states like Iowa or somewhere else in the Midwest.”

Secretary Kuperus attributed New Jersey’s stronger economic trends to “the hard work and innovation of our state’s farmers.”

”Whether it’s availing themselves of more direct-marketing opportunities, branching out into value-added products or making the most of being a locally grown product in an era where consumers place a high value on that quality, our agricultural producers are doing a good job adapting to a changing marketplace,” said Secretary Kuperus.

Cash Receipts Chart

The Department of Agriculture continues developing programs that will further aid in farm viability – from farmer entrepreneurial training to food-safety education to local preferences for food purchases at school and community feeding operations.