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For Immediate Release: September 26, 2013
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) The Christie Administration has received a $777,044 Specialty Crop Block Grant to fund 13 initiatives to benefit Garden State crops such as fruits, vegetables, as well as horticulture and nursery. 

The grants are part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote specialty crops in the nation and stimulate food-and agriculturally-based community economic development.  Much of New Jersey agriculture falls into the specialty crop category, which account for $882.4 million in sales annually in the Garden State.

“This federal money helps to stimulate interest in our produce and horticulture industries and strengthen New Jersey agriculture,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  “The organizations receiving the grants will use the funds for promotional campaigns, research and education.”

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will use a portion of the funding to support the popular Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs.  A majority of the projects support agricultural marketing and cooperative development.  Several research projects also are included.

The projects to be funded by New Jersey’s grant include:

American Cranberry Growers’ Association -- increase the consumption of cranberry products by those suffering from metabolic syndrome by determining if cranberry consumption, even with added sugar, will improve some parameters of metabolic syndrome; showing the presence of beneficial phytochemicals in human plasma after cranberry consumption; testing the use of one or more cranberry varieties with a lower acid level; and sharing the results of the study with local cranberry growers.

Garden State Wine Growers Association -- increase sales of New Jersey through a targeted promotional campaign.

Jersey Fruit Cooperative Association -- lower the operating costs of fruit farms while improving the impact of fruit production on the environment through sustainability training for fruit growers and packing houses.

Mercer County Board of Agriculture -- Prepare specialty crop producers to comply with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) by educating direct market growers on FSMA compliance and GAP; conduct pathogen sampling of manure and manure based composts on specialty crops; conduct pathogen sampling of packing house equipment; develop cost effective means of compliance with FSMA and GAP.

New Jersey Agricultural Society -- increase specialty crop producers’ understanding of agricultural issues such as water and land use, trade agreements and land preservation and to enhance their business management, marketing and communication skills by providing agricultural leadership development training.

New Jersey Agricultural Society -- increase production and consumption of specialty crops by educating low-income families and the general public on their nutritional value; educating the general public about local sources of specialty crops; and marketing specialty crops and nutrition through video, online resources, and handouts.

New Jersey Blueberry and Cranberry Research Center -- minimize the damage caused by key insect pests of blueberries by evaluating and developing innovative insect behavior- based approaches to managing oriental beetle, plum curculio, brown Marmorated stink bug and spotted wing drosophila; demonstrating the effectiveness of an attract-and-kill strategy for controlling these pests; and sharing results with blueberry growers.

New Jersey Blueberry Growers Association -- promote the consumption of New Jersey blueberries by developing and implementing a targeted promotional campaign consisting of radio advertisements.

New Jersey Peach Promotion Council -- promote New Jersey peaches through advertising in print media and various promotional events.

Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association -- increase sales of New Jersey wines by conducting market research of wine consumers, creating a brand identity for a new proprietary blend, determining the proper channels through which target consumers can be reached with incentives, and creating a “Buy Local” marketing program to promote the new blend.

Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the Small Fruits Council -- increase production of New Jersey strawberries by assessing the status of the production and marketing of minor small fruits; expediting the evaluation and release of strawberry selections from the Rutgers breeding program; and sharing results of the project with small fruits growers.

The New Jersey grant was announced on September 24 by the USDA, part of $52 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants funding 694 projects throughout the nation for 2014.