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For Immediate Release: October 20, 2009
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced the award of $656,610 in Specialty Crop Block Grants from the United States Department of Agriculture for nine projects to assist the state’s agriculture industry.

“This grant money will go a long way in our efforts to promote and develop the state’s $1 billion a year agriculture industry,” said Secretary Fisher.  “Senator Robert Menendez and Governor Jon Corzine have been leaders in bringing in federal agriculture dollars to our state, helping to sustain farming, which is so vital to New Jersey’s economy and quality of life.”

The projects funded by the grant will:
  • Expand the marketing of and increase the demand for New Jersey specialty crops through the advertising and promotion of the Jersey Fresh local branding program. All recipients of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funded Jersey Fresh Matched Funds Program grants will be limited to the promotion of specialty crops defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops including floriculture
  • Partner with the New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association to conduct direct consumer advertising in order to promote the sale and use of New Jersey nursery products and related services
  • Partner with Garden State Wine Growers Association to redesign and develop the New Jersey Wine County Passport Book/Wine Trail Program and promote the “Jersey Fresh Wine & Food Festival”
  • Partner with the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council to develop a new marketing theme that will be the foundation of the proposed advertising and promotional campaign
  • Partner with the Northeast Organic Farming Association in New Jersey to provide business planning and training solely to new farmers in the production and marketing of organic fruit and vegetable crops
  • Partner with the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey to work with the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University to develop product prototypes for a “Jersey Tomato Gravy” from surplus and/or non-standard grade tomatoes, perform initial consumer response panels, and production run of the accepted prototype
  • Partner with the Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association to identify and select optimum grape growing sites and grape varieties and develop a list of research priorities to address critical issues in optimizing high quality wine grape production
  • Partner with Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market Association, which only sells vegetables, fruits, ornamental flowers and nursery stock produced in New Jersey, to create comprehensive storage and distribution efficiencies for an expanded Community Supported Agriculture operation as well as properly store and distribute nursery stock items

New Jersey’s grant was part of an award of $49 million for 745 projects nationally to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.  USDA selected projects that support local and rural agriculture interests, increase the competitiveness of small producers, and promote or create direct marketing opportunities for specialty crop producers.