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For Immediate Release: October 5, 2011
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that New Jersey will receive a $792,245 Specialty Crop Block Grant for 20 initiatives to benefit Garden State crops such as fruits, vegetables, horticulture and nursery.

“These USDA grants are vital for our specialty crop producers,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  “This funding will promote many different sectors of the industry, protect consumers and inform the public about the diversity and importance of our state’s agriculture.”

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will use a portion of the funding for Jersey Fresh promotion and will partner with a variety of organizations on food safety, industry promotion, public awareness and training projects.

“Agriculture plays a vital role in the health and strength of our economy, and by investing in specialty crop growers and producers across the country, we can help spark new markets and job creation, while expanding production of healthy, safe and affordable food,” said U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. 

Most of New Jersey agriculture falls into the specialty crop category.  Specialty crops account for $832.7 million in sales annually in the Garden State.

The projects to be funded by New Jersey’s grant include:
  • Jersey Fresh Program –support print, radio and cable television advertising, as well as New Jersey Transit bus outdoor advertising.
  • New Jersey Farm Bureau – increase the accessibility of food safety training information for specialty crop producers, including establishment of a web-based outlet for pertinent food safety information and facilitation of a food safety summit.
  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension – produce public service announcement series encouraging specialty crop production and consumption
  • Garden State Wine Growers Association – develop and execute multi-faceted branding and marketing campaign.
  • Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association – educate the New Jersey grape growing community on how to meet the increasing demand for unique, high quality, locally grown wine grapes and create marketing tools to demonstrate this uniqueness.
  • New Jersey Blueberry Growers Association – promote the nutritious attributes of New Jersey grown blueberries through an advertising campaign.
  • New Jersey Peach Promotion Council – expand the promotional campaign by incorporating new promotional activities, make the website more interactive and continue educational outreach and dissemination programs.
  • New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association – create a publicity campaign to increase public awareness and encourage purchase of locally grown trees.
  • New Jersey Agricultural Society – facilitate a training program for specialty crop producers to increase their production efficiency and enhance their ability to market their products.
  • Garden Club of New Jersey – develop an outreach and education program to enhance the awareness of garden center and nurseries about local fruits, vegetables, floriculture and horticulture products while increasing their consumption.
  • New Jersey Council of Farmers and Communities – strengthen the competitiveness of specialty crops through small niche farmer assistance, marketing specialty crops at community farmers markets while educating consumers on the health benefits of eating “local to table” Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Landisville Cooperative Association – implement a web-based promotional site to increase the sales of fresh vegetables through an on-site direct-to-consumer and business-to-business market enterprise.
  • Jersey Fruit Cooperative Association – implement an efficient item-level produce traceability initiative (PTI) for all Jersey Fruit blueberry grower/packers and a PTI compliant case-level traceability solution for all Jersey Fruit blueberry packers and Jersey Fruit peach packers.
  • Tri-County Cooperative Auction – upgrade office computer system to facilitate quick sale of specialty crops through the co-op.
  • Trenton Farmers Market – promote Jersey Fresh and educate customers to both buy and eat local specialty crops through the facilitation of Jersey Fresh Days at the market and cooking demonstrations.
  • Atlantic County Board of Agriculture – increase public’s awareness of the economic and non-economic benefits of a strong and viable agriculture industry.
  • Cumberland County Board of Agriculture – implement a Good Agriculture Practices/Good Handling Practices training program for New Jersey fruit and vegetable growers.
  • Middlesex County Board of Agriculture – revise and update an informational brochure featuring local agricultural producers and the products and services they offer.

The New Jersey grant was announced today by the USDA, part of 740 Specialty Crop Block Grant projects throughout the nation for 2012.