Menendez Brings More Than $1.3 Million To NJ For Agriculture and Conservation Projects; Announces Additional $656,610 In Grants Funding

Menendez Brings More Than $1.3 Million To NJ For Agriculture and Conservation Projects; Announces Additional $656,610 In Grants Funding

Funding part of FY2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act and FY2009 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced an estimated $1.9 million in funding for key agriculture projets in New Jersey: $1.3 million from the FY2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act and $656,610 million under the FY2009 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These investments are meant to promote farming and conservation efforts in New Jersey.

"There is a reason New Jersey is the Garden State," said Senator Menendez. "The produce from our farms is a driving force in our economy, and we cherish our open spaces and wildlife. These investments help keep our farms economically viable and help keep our families healthy with fresh food grown locally."

Senator Menendez helped secure a total of $1,286,000 in funding for the following projects in New Jersey from the FY2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act:

Blueberry and Cranberry protection -- Rutgers University, Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research & Extension -- $550,000. The funding will be used to develop new cranberry and blueberry cultivars which enhance economic sustainability; develop environmentally sound insect and disease management technologies; identify health attributes of these native crops, and investigate new and value-added uses. Research on breeding and pest management will provide continued support for the $50 million a year industry. Past research has found bacterial anti-adherence mechanisms helping to fight urinary tract infection and dental caries, and other antioxidant properties. New Jersey is the nation's second largest producer of high-bush blueberries and the nation's third largest producer of cranberries.

Land conservation -- New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts -- $236,000. Funds will be used for non-federal technical staff on New Jersey farms to address unique challenges associated with farms in urban settings; to develop/implement conservation practices to protect water quality in streams to benefit residents and enhance wildlife; and to retrain Conservation staff to perform conservation planning per new animal waste management rules affecting 7,000 animal owners. Controlling the erosion from agricultural lands and the nutrients from animal waste at the source is the most cost effective means to protect water quality. Federal funds will leverage state and local funds and enable more farms and animal owners to comply with animal waste management plans and environmental regulations.

Gypsy Moth Pest Management -- New Jersey Department of Agriculture -- $500,000. The funds will be used to support and enhance gypsy moth control on effected communities and public lands. Specifically, funds will go to cost share aerial treatments borne by local municipalities; for outreach in developing a web-based interactive online map showing the distribution of gypsy moth in New Jersey and proposed treatment areas; for technical support for salaries for field scouts and vehicle operation. New Jersey has been particularly hard hit by gypsy moth devastation so this project will have statewide benefit, and the interactive online mapping tool will allow citizens to determine whether their properties are within proposed treatment areas; the mapping tool would also allow those individuals who may be pesticide-sensitive to easily identify and avoid proposed treatment areas.

An additional $656,610 in funding were awarded to fund 9 projects under the FY2009 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program that 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.

• Perform pre-award and post-award activities in order to administrate the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations.