ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Gov. Philip D. Murphy addressed the 103rd New Jersey State Agricultural Convention Wednesday by giving remarks during the New Jersey Agricultural Society Luncheon at Harrah’s Resort Waterfront Conference Center. After a welcome from NJDA Secretary Douglas H. Fisher, the governor assured the audience that agricultural needs will be a priority during his administration.
“From diverse Community Sustained Agriculture farms serving dozens of families, to thousands of rows of blueberry bushes, to the cranberry bogs, to the fields where horses train for race day, to dairy farms, fields of soybeans, to apple and peach orchards, to growing wineries and breweries — and countless other places across our state — New Jersey agriculture is alive and well,” Gov. Murphy said. “As governor, I am committed to working with you to make it even stronger.”
Gov. Murphy made it clear that he wants to see the state’s Jersey Fresh brand, which started in 1984 and is the oldest state agricultural brand in the U.S., continue to grow.
“For years, Jersey Fresh has been synonymous with the best from our farms,” Gov. Murphy said. “It helped change entire ideas of what New Jersey is, and what we have to offer. But getting the Jersey Fresh label out before the public doesn’t happen on its own, and it takes more than a sign on a roadside stand, or a placard stapled to a crate on a supermarket floor. Jersey Fresh must be a coordinated message that has real reach, and which leads consumers to want to buy the locally produced, picked-yesterday product over the shipped-here-from-elsewhere one.
“We need to expand what people think of when they think of Jersey Fresh. From cheese to beer, we have an entire array of products with their roots planted — literally and figuratively — in New Jersey’s soil. Working with Secretary Fisher and the State Board of Agriculture, I believe we can launch a new era for Jersey Fresh, to take advantage of new platforms to reach new consumers.”
Gov. Murphy also emphasized the importance of all sectors of agriculture needing to support each other so progress can continue.
“This will require a new focus on our state’s agricultural experiment stations, and expanded partnerships with Rutgers University and other researchers,” Gov. Murphy said. “It will need better pest management principles and policies, whether we talk about the deer who visit at night, or the hungry insects who sneak in undetected.
“We need to make the connections with our residents that farms aren’t just places to drive past. Our farms are an integral part of who we are and how we live. New Jersey farms produce the fresh food in the school cafeteria, and help those with lesser means gain access to fresh produce.”
Gov. Murphy started and concluded his remarks with a personal thank you to the agriculture community.
“So, let me finish where I began, with a ‘thank you,’” he said. “And, that’s not just for me, for every New Jerseyan.”
Other highlights on Wednesday included the Agriculture Address by Secretary Fisher during the opening session in the morning, remarks from Rutgers University Chancellor Dr. Deba Dutta, a report from New Jersey Farm Bureau President Ryck Suydam and remarks from New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney at the Joint Agricultural Convention Dinner Banquet.
The New Jersey State Agricultural Convention is an annual meeting of the state’s agricultural leaders and those interested in agriculture where they can hear and discuss current issues, pass resolutions, elect officers and board members and honor those for service in the industry.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture